Courtesy of Middlebury Sports Information
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - The Middlebury women's soccer team scored the match's only goal in the 68th minute, as the Panthers posted a 1-0 shutout over Williams in the NESCAC Championship game on Sunday on Farley-Lamb Field. The women's soccer title is the fourth in program history (2000, 2006, 2013). The second-seeded Panthers improve to 15-1-2 and receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, awaiting their opponent when the field is announced on Monday afternoon. The top-seeded Ephs fall to 15-1-2 and will likely garner one of the at-large bids.
In the opening half, scoring chances were hard to come by for both teams despite the hosts producing the first seven shots of the match. Williams had its best opportunity in the 23rd minute, as Aspen Pierson ripped a left-footed shot from 24 yards that Middlebury goalie Ursula Alwang dove to her right and punched away.
The Panthers' greatest bid of the first stanza occurred with 11:21 remaining. Ellie Greenberg was one-on-one with an Eph defender on her hip, but Williams' goalie Olivia Barnhill raced off her line, before sliding and denying Greenberg's right-footed shot from 15 yards out.
At the start of the second half, the Ephs tallied the first three shots, including a left-footed shot by Natalie Turner-Wyatt in the 54th minute from 26 yards that sailed just high.
Following that scoring opportunity, Middlebury ratcheted up its offensive pressure, with Greenberg providing the match's lone goal in the 68th minute. Eliza Van Voorhis crossed a ball to Simone Ameer, who made a quick touch from the right side to Greenberg, who volleyed it in from point-blank range past a diving Barnhill. The tally was Greenberg's fourth of the season and the first game-winning goal of her career.
Alex Barber nearly doubled the Panther lead in the 89th minute, collecting a turnover before her attempt from 25 yards sailed just over the crossbar. Williams was unable to muster an equalizer in the final minute, as the Panthers earned the one-goal victory.
Alwang made three saves for the Panthers for her 14th career shutout and 28th victory, while Barnhill had one stop for Williams. The hosts came away with a 15-6 edge in shots, while Middlebury earned three of the match's four corner kicks.
With Sunday's victory, the Panthers avenged their lone loss of the season, a 1-0 decision by the Ephs on October 23 in the regular-season finale.
The two programs have met three times in the league's championship match prior to Sunday. Williams earned wins in both 2004 and 2009, while Middlebury defeated the Ephs to claim the 2013 title.