In a match against Union College, the Vassar women’s soccer team pulled out a season-changing win, earning a spot in the Liberty League playoffs week. This win earned the team their first berth into post season play since 2010.
The game took place on Vassar turf on November 2nd, and the two teams did not fail to deliver a game that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats. Freshman Kelsey Hamm scored the first goal for the Brewers, putting them in the lead. It looked as though the Brewers had the game won. However, with around ten minutes remaining on the clock, Union pulled out a corner kick that sailed into the back of the net. The match went into overtime, and in order to move on the Brewers could not tie the match, or their record would not be good enough to progress. They had to win. With the clock winding down, junior Chloe Wheeler, who has been a crucial player for the women’s team, shot in the game-winning goal, giving the Brewers the victory.
This game marked the creation of a monumental season for the women’s soccer team. A long time rival, Union College faced the same fate as the Brewers in that if they won, they moved on, and if they lost, they were out. Head coach Laura Williamson had confidence that her team could pull off the win. “From the start of the match we showed as the better side,” expressed Williamson. “We knew Union’s strengths and we knew where we could look to exploit them as well. The way we were connecting I never had a doubt that we were going to score more goals than them. The nerve-wracking part was how long it took to make that happen. I think we created more quality chances in that second half that we have all season. As a coach, I wish we put a few more away early, but being able to celebrate that golden goal is a moment that these players will never forget.”
Wheeler expressed the atmosphere of the match. “The Union game was the perfect scenario — winning would secure a spot in the playoffs, we were on our home field with all of our friends and family cheering us on, it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon — nothing gets much better than that. We had the right mentality even before going into the locker room to get ready for the game. We weren’t about to accept anything less than a win.”
Wheeler, who has received much praise for her efforts, attributes the majority of the team’s success to the amount of talent within each of the individual players. “We have so much talent individually and collectively,” Wheeler expressed. “Despite the ups and downs that we have faced throughout the season, we were motivated by the fact that we knew how capable we were of making the playoffs and beyond. We really were able to put that talent and heart together in the last half of our season, which is a pretty awesome feeling and accomplishment.”
However, according to some members of the team, the season has been a testament to how hard the team has had to work in order to pull off these wins. Williamson in particular described how this season has been an uphill battle for the team. “It’s been quite a bumpy ride this year,” Williamson stated. “We’re finally showing some consistent quality throughout matches and game to game. I think what really kept this team moving forward was trust in one other. We’ve known all year that we’re a good squad, but we needed to believe that it would come to fruition in some big wins down the road.”
Williamson, along with assistant coach Pamela Monnier, make up the coaching squad for the women’s team. Many players expressed their belief that the coaches are the reason that they have been able to get so far in the season. “Our coaches have done so much this year to bring us together and keep us focused. They’re kind of like the glue that holds us together,” expressed junior Ariel Bridges, a team defender. “They’ve helped us to channel those energies in more productive ways and they’re also great communicators which I think has really contributed to our success.”
Going into post season play, the team will look to give their best match possible and pull off close wins against nationally ranked teams. “Going into post season, we’re really going to take it one game at a time and continue with what we have been focusing on in the past few weeks,” expressed Wheeler. “I have faith in us. We all need to give 100% effort to get the result we want this Wednesday, and I have no doubts that we can do that.”