Entering Saturday’s game against Cornell, the women’s soccer team (5-7-2, 1-3-1 Ivy) had not scored against an Ivy League opponent in four conference match ups. But against the Big Red (9-2-4, 2-2-1), the Bears rallied in the second half and overtime to claim their first Ivy win of the season, 3-2.
Though the result was favorable in the end, the Bears appeared overwhelmed for much of the match. Cornell’s Charlotte Tate scored in the eighth minute, and less than two minutes into the second half, Paige DeLoach added another for the Big Red.
The Bears took only three shots in the first half, but they knew that their offense, which has been streaky all season, had the potential to mount a comeback at a moment’s notice. And the Big Red had reason to be afraid: “2-0 is the most dangerous score in soccer,” said forward Celia Story ’19. “Once you get one, you get the momentum back.”
Sure enough, the Bears got on the board in the 63rd minute when Carly Gould ’17 — after a hat trick two weeks ago against Marist — fired a shot past the keeper off a feed from Amanda Lane ’19. Less than two minutes later, Story found the back of the net from inside the 18-yard box to provide the equalizer, with help from Jennifer Caruso ’19.
“We got one in the second half, and then we got another one two minutes later,” Story said. “We knew we could do it, but we just needed to put those words into action. We’d been saying that all game.”
Multiple players have said throughout the season that their offense is better than the numbers suggest. The stats somewhat support these sentiments, telling a tale of two vastly different teams: The Bears have played 14 games and scored 15 goals, but 12 of those goals have come in just four games. The Bears have won all four games in which they have scored two or more goals, but in their other 10 games, they have scored only two goals total.
After Story’s goal in the 65th minute, the two teams traded punches. The Bears took ten shots in the second half to the Big Red’s five, but neither could find the net again. After Sydney Calas ’17 hit the post with 32 seconds remaining, and Lane fired the rebound high, the Bears went to overtime for the fourth time this season.
“We were kind of just like, ‘We have to want it more.’ That was what that game was about,” Story said. “We know we can do it. Let’s just get it done.”
Sure enough, after a scoreless first overtime, the Bears struck in the second. Story netted the game winner, her second of the match, assisted by Gould.
Calas “had a great early service in, and (Gould) placed it perfectly,” Story said. “The goalie kind of got it, almost saved it, but I was there on the rebound luckily.”
The Bears understood the importance of the win and celebrated in kind. “It was definitely needed. It’s going to propel us forward through our next games,” Story said. Of the celebration, she added, “I’d never been at the bottom of a dog pile before.”
The significance of the game is twofold: It provides the Bears with a sorely needed Ivy victory and also leaves open the potential of a .500 season, both in Ivy play and overall. If the Bears can defeat Penn next weekend and Yale in two weeks, they will finish 7-7-2 and 3-3-1 in Ivy play. Though some focus has already turned to next year after the Bears’ underwhelming record this season, Story is adamant that the team’s primary goal remains winning its final two games.
“Penn is senior night, so we want to have a really strong game for our seniors to honor them and what they’ve done for the program,” she said. “We’re definitely trying to win the next two games — why not finish 3-3-1?”
Next weekend’s game versus Penn will also be meaningful for a different reason: It will be the final home game for Head Coach Phil Pincince. Pincince, the longest tenured women’s soccer coach in the country, will retire after this season, his 39th.
“Over his career, he has developed a system of how he does things, and he’s kind of perfected it,” Story said. “He’s going to continue to do what he does and finish out his amazing career in a strong, calm way.”
The departure of Pincince will make next season even more exciting. The Bears are fortunate that many of their key players are young, and the team will not be decimated by losses when this year’s seniors graduate. With a new coach in the mix as well, there are reasons for optimism.
“Right now, we’re focused on finishing this season,” Story said. “But we’re all pretty excited for what’s to come.”