Eisenhart leads Ephs to NESCAC quarterfinal victory against Wesleyan
With three goals on the day, Brett Eisenhart led the Ephs to victory against the Wesleyan Cardinals 4-1 in the opening round of the NESCAC tournament. The Ephs were the third seed and the Cardinals were the sixth in the league standings. The two teams began their seasons against each other; the result of their first game was a 2-2 tie. Coach Michelyne Pinard commented on the team's development throughout the year: "We've come a long way since the beginning of the year. We had been creating offensive opportunities all year, and we finished today. [Being able to finish] was a big difference."
The offense started early for both teams. Just a minute into the game, Caitlyn Clark led Eisenhart with a pass into the box. Eisenhart beat out the Wesleyan defenders and finished the shot in the lower right corner of the net. Clark is second for the Ephs on the year with six assists.
Wesleyan quickly responded to Williams's early goal. In just the fifth minute, Kaylin Berger served a long ball ahead to freshman Kerry Doyle. Doyle sprinted past the Williams defender and beat Eph goalie Laura Wann with a shot in the lower right corner. Doyle led the Cardinals' offense with three shots on the day.
The final goal of the half came with 33:16 to play. Sara Wild crossed the ball from the left side of the net. Bridget Gallagher headed the ball just over Wesleyan goalie Clare Colton's outstretched arms and into the net. It was Gallagher's second goal of the year. Coach Pinard said, "It was nice to see Bridget get on the board. It's been coming a long time." Although there were a handful of opportunities for both teams during the rest of the half, the game went into halftime with a 2-1 Eph lead.
Early in the second half, Eisenhart struck again. In the 47th minute of the game, Gallagher passed a ball into the box. While going down in the box, Eisenhart just beat Colton to the ball to finish over the Wesleyan goalie. A little while later, it looked as if Gallagher might get her second goal of the game when she went one-on-one with Colton. Colton came up with a huge save, though, to keep the game at 3-1. Colton recorded five saves on the day.
Eisenhart's final goal came with just over 25 minutes to play. After receiving a pass from Wild, Eisenhart rocketed the ball from the top of the box into the lower right corner of the net. Eisenhart leads the team with 11 goals and 23 points on the year. Coach Pinard said after the game: "It was nice to see Brett finish three. [From here] she will start rolling. She had a bit of a drought, and we knew [the goals] would happen [at some point], and [they] happened today. I'm happy for her."
Down 4-1, Wesleyan continued to fight until the end. With just over three minutes to play, Doyle shot a ball wide. A short while later, Dasha Battelle took a shot as well. Julia Schreiber made the save. Schreiber had both Eph saves on the day. Wesleyan finished the day with seven shots; Williams recorded 17. Coach Pinard talked about how much her entire offense contributed today, not just those involved in the goals: "Tyler [Rainer], Nicole [Stenquist], Hayley [Cook], and 'Iggy' (Annelise) [Snyder] all contributed to creating dangerous opportunities that broke Wesleyan down." Today's game proved very physical: Williams committed 12 fouls, and the Cardinals committed nine.
The Ephs move to 10-3-2 on the year. Wesleyan finished its season with a record of 5-5-4. The Ephs will move on to play Middlebury, who beat Trinity, in the semi-finals of the NESCAC tournament. The game will be played at Amherst at 1:30 on Saturday. In the other semi-final game, Amherst will play Bates, who upset first-seeded Tufts in a penalty kick shootout today. Looking ahead, Coach Pinard said, "We're ready for anyone. We're just excited to play one more week."