For women’s soccer, the week was a tale of two opponents: The Bears took on Princeton and failed to muster any semblance of an offensive attack Saturday before rebounding against Marist and winning in emphatic fashion Monday.
Princeton 4, Brown 0
The Tigers (9-3, 3-0 Ivy) came to Stevenson Field on a six-game winning streak, while the Bears (4-6-2, 0-2-1 Ivy) entered the game having gone 310 consecutive minutes without scoring a goal. But throughout most of the first half, the Bears managed to hold their own against the Tigers.
“Our student-athletes are awesome — they work hard until the end,” said Head Coach Phil Pincince.
With only 10 seconds left in the half, Princeton broke through. Off a cross from Beth Stella, Tyler Lussi headed a ball off the post and in, putting the Tigers up 1-0.
“That goal with 10 seconds to go just can’t happen,” Pincince said. “There’s such a different demeanor going into the locker room down 1-0 with a goal in the last 10 seconds versus going in 0-0.”
Princeton effectively scored twice in under two minutes: 77 seconds into the second half, Mimi Asom beat goalie Christine Etzel ’19 one-on-one off a turnover in the Bears’ defensive zone, putting the Tigers up 2-0.
Pincince, in an attempt to score quickly and regain momentum, manipulated his lineup for what he hoped would be maximum offensive success.
“When the score was 2-0, we were playing to win,” Pincince said. “So we pulled out Sarah Cobb ’18. We only went with three backs so we could push more offense.”
But the strategy proved unsuccessful. After Princeton’s Vanessa Gregoire scored in the 62nd minute to put the Tigers up 3-0 and Alessia Azermadhi added another at 75:33, Pincince began utilizing his bench.
“When they made it three, it was like, ‘Listen, let’s give some players a chance to experience what it is to play in an Ivy game,’” he said. “And I thought that was a positive for us.”
Jaclyn Alois ’17, Michelle Jolson ’16 and Kate Maher ’19 all entered, and Etzel departed in favor of Rylee Shumway ’18, who had previously appeared in just one game. Princeton inserted several of its backups as well. The last 10 minutes were scoreless, leading to a 4-0 final.
The Bears suffered several injury scares throughout the game. Defender Maclaine Lehan ’18 went down with an apparent head injury in the 24th minute. She remained in the game, albeit surrounded by concerned coaches and trainers. Sydney Calas ’17 took a shot to the face in the 41st minute, but she was also able to remain in the game. In the 66th minute, Erin Katz ’16, the Bears’ second-leading scorer, went down with a knee injury in addition to the broken cheekbone she had suffered two weeks earlier. Helped off the field by her coaches, Katz did not return. At the time, the severity of her injury was uncertain, but she played Monday.
“Katz inspires all of us,” said Celia Story ’19. “She’s a really tough player, and when she’s out there doing what she does, it’s hard not to be inspired by her.”
After the shutout, the Bears had not scored in 400 minutes. But Story maintained that the goals would come.
“While we haven’t scored for so long, we’ve had a lot of really good chances,” she said. “There’s a lot of good things there. They’re going to start coming.”
Brown 4, Marist 0
In an attempt to rebound from the loss to Princeton, the team came out against Marist with an intensity greater than it had displayed in many of its previous games. Having not scored for 400 minutes entering the game, the Bears scored twice in the first 12 minutes on two headers from Carly Gould ’17 and added a third in the 42nd minute, when Gould completed a hat trick off a feed from Story.
“We’ve had an issue with scoring, and I think that the players took the game into their own hands and did what they needed to do,” Pincince said. “It was a great team win.”
In the 20th minute, Marist had a chance to make the score 2-1 and put pressure back on the Bears when a handball called on Cobb led to a penalty shot for the Red Foxes. But Etzel was up to the challenge: She made a diving save, knocking the shot away to the left and ending the threat.
“Etzel has been there for us all year,” Pincince said.
Less than five minutes into the second half, Megan Grant ’19 controlled the ball outside Marist’s 18-yard box and sent a feed for Jillian DeSimone ’16, who knocked it into the back of the net and widened the Bears’ lead to 4-0. DeSimone has been essential to the Bears’ attack this year, drawing and taking the vast majority of Brown’s corner kicks, but this was only her second goal of the season.
“It was nice for her to get one,” Pincince said. “She had a strong performance today, not only on the flank but also moving the ball quickly. She had a very good game.”
For the Bears, though the day was extremely positive, one negative sign remained: Lehan, who had played every game thus far this season on defense, did not play after suffering an injury against Princeton. Pincince said Lehan was unavailable, though he declined to specify why.
Nevertheless, Pincince said he feels that with the win, the Bears’ season has turned in the right direction.
“There’s always something that happens during a season that changes things for a team,” he said. “We’re hoping that maybe this is the thing that changes it — that yes, we can score goals, we can get the ball where we want it.”
The Bears will return to action this Saturday against Harvard for what Pincince described as “the longest rivalry in women’s soccer in this country.” Only four games remain on the Bears’ schedule, all against Ivy opponents.
“Maybe this is what changes things going into the final stretch of the season,” Pincince said. “If that’s the case, I would be very happy.”