Rookies on target but women’s soccer drops opener at #1 Williams

Hamilton defender Kristin Hughes '20 recorded her fourth career assist at Williams (Josh McKee photo).
Hamilton defender Kristin Hughes '20 recorded her fourth career assist at Williams (Josh McKee photo).

Hamilton College dropped a 4-2 NESCAC decision against Williams College at Williams' Cole Field on Wednesday. The game was the season opener for both squads.

A trio of rookie Continentals delivered the first tally of the 2019 season in the 41st minute. Ashlyn Gaulin '23 drew a foul 15 yards out from the top-left corner of the penalty box, and Claire Kaplan '23 was called upon for the free kick. Kaplan sent the ball towards the backside of the goal area as Hyla Mosher '23 redirected a header shot inside the opposite post.

Kaplan and Mosher had additional scoring chances in the first half. Just one minute after Hamilton took the lead, Mackenzie Christensen '22 stole the ball away in Hamilton's defensive zone and tapped the ball forward to Emma Gaulin '23 who sent a long ball up the gut to Mosher. Mosher raced all alone towards the net and attempted to kick the ball over the head of the goalkeeper but was fouled on the shot, causing the ball to miss wide right. Kaplan took the free kick from 30 yards out and fired a shot towards the upper-right corner but Whitney Lincoln made a fingertip save.

Mosher added another attempt with under four minutes remaining in the first half when she intercepted a pass between the Eph defenders for a breakaway on Lincoln. Lincoln stopped the first shot and Mosher fired again but Williams' Claire Tolliver made a defensive save.

Hamilton started the second half with a 1-0 advantage and Mosher nearly made it a two-goal lead in the 52nd minute. Alex Fontana '20 and Cat Gambino '21 teamed up and battled the ball away from Williams at the top of the box. Gambino touched the ball forward to Mosher who snuck behind the defenders for an open shot on Lincoln, but Lincoln made a diving save to her right as she watched the ball roll over the end line and out of bounds.

Williams -- ranked No. 1 in the United Soccer Coaches Division III Preseason Poll and the 2017 and 2018 NCAA Division III champions -- then cranked up the pressure and scored three unanswered goals at 62:47, 68:03 and 71:14. Victoria Laino tied the score on a penalty kick scorched into the top-left corner after Avery Mohan drew a foul inside the box. Mikayla Kappes gave Williams the lead on a one-timer off a cross from Erika Jung, and Laino scored her second of the game after she won the battle out front and tucked the ball past Hamilton's Caity Smith '22.

Caroline Dawson '23 quickly responded for the Continentals in the 72nd minute when Kristin Hughes '20 sailed a cross from the right sideline into the goal area. Dawson elevated over Williams goalkeeper Chelsea Taylor and headed the ball underneath the crossbar to get Hamilton within one goal.

The Ephs scored an insurance goal with 2:19 left. Tolliver earned a breakaway attempt on Smith and the keeper left the net to challenge the attack. She made a great initial save but Tolliver controlled the rebound and dribbled the ball into the open net.

Rachel Pike '21 started in goal for the Continentals, recording zero saves in the first half. Smith took over in the second half and stopped four shots. Lincoln (1 save, 1 goal against) started for the Ephs and returned in the 76th minute. Taylor began the second half for Williams, recording four saves and giving up one goal before being relieved.

The Continentals host Bates College for a NESCAC game on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 11 a.m.