Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams put up valiant fights in their Liberty League championship games, but both ultimately fell to the teams from Hobart and William Smith College, respectively.
The men were up first, kicking off at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5th. Vassar went into the game sitting at the number two seed, while Hobart secured the number one seed. Coming off a huge win against St. Lawrence University in the semifinal matchup, the men’s team was fired up to get a chance to defend the Liberty League title. Facing off against the Statesmen of Hobart College, the Brewers played a statistically even game, but could not convert on any of their opportunities to score, which ultimately cost them the championship.
Vassar outshot Hobart 15-14 throughout the game. Sophomore Mattie Mrlik took four shots with one of them on goal, senior Reid Smith took two shots and nine other players all had one opportunity to score.
Hobart scored in the first half off a header from junior Alex Weisbein.
At the half, the score was 1-0, but Weisbein soon scored again, putting
Hobart up 2-0.
Vassar did not give up and finished out the game strong. Unfortunately, they still struggled to convert their shot opportunities they had at the end of the second half.
Senior keeper Matt Marcelino posted five saves, and Mrlik led the team with four shots.
Sophomore defender Henrik Olsson reflected on the performance of the team this past weekend. “I thought we played really well this past weekend. Looking back at the semi-finals, we came into the game very prepared and played with a lot of confidence. We moved the ball around really well and created numerous chanc- es, which we capitalized on early in the game,” he explained.
However, with only one day in between the semifinal and final, the quick turnaround time for the Brewers proved to be detrimental. “Coming off a hard-fought win against St. Lawrence definitely made it tougher for us to play again on Sun-day in the final,” Olsson noted. “Conditions were extremely challenging and it was hard to control the tempo of the game. Everyone put in everything they had and although the result wasn’t what we wanted, we fought hard and battled until the final whistle.”
The Brewers grit did not go unnoticed, as seniors Tanner Sands, Reid Smith and Hayden Van Brewer, as well as sophomore Mattie Mrlik, were all named to the All-Tournament team.
On the women’s side, Vassar faced up against the Herons of William Smith right after the men’s game, at 3:30 p.m. The Brewers had beaten RIT in the semifinals the day before and came out with high energy and confidence. The women put up a great fight and were able to hold the Herons to just two goals. Unfortunately, the Brewers were unable to find the back of the net the whole game, crowning William Smith as the champions.
After the game, Coach Corey Holton was interviewed by an athletics correspondent. Holton recognized the talent that the Herons have this year, but was proud of the way the team battled. “That’s a great William Smith team, but I thought our kids played hard, they played tough and they gave them a run for their money,” she commented.
William Smith possessed the ball for the majority of the game. The Herons took 23 shots, 10 of which were on goal while the Brewers only took two, one of which was on goal.
Freshman goalkeeper Fiona Walsh kept the Brewers alive thanks to the eight saves she made in the net.
Junior Audrey Pillsbury was the only Brewer to take a shot in the first half, but despite being
outshot, the Brewers were able to hold the Herons scoreless for the first 35 minutes of play.
Unfortunately, the one goal deficit was soon hiked up to two, the second goal coming just three minutes into the second half on William Smith’s Megan Barwick’s shot.
Up by two, the Herons controlled the ball for the rest of the game, only allowing the Brewers to take one shot in the second half.
Although the season did not end the way the Brewers had hoped, sophomore midfielder Gabrielle Deitch was happy with the united effort the team put forth in the last game of the season.
“I think the team played really well on Saturday. Our win definitely came from a huge collective effort and a mentality that we did not want it to be our last game,” she reflected. Everyone worked extremely hard and took care of the small but important details. The forwards did a great job of tracking back, the mids dominated the 50/50 balls in the air, and our defense was strong and patient.”
The men’s team ended the season with a 10-5-3 overall record, going 6-1-2 in conference. Olsson was proud of the way the team competed throughout the whole season. “We carried along a lot of experience from last year’s team and bolstered our team depth with the freshmen class, which helped us in the final stretch of games. A big high was our doubleheader victories versus Clarkson and St. Lawrence, which gave us a lot of confidence and belief,” she explained.
The women’s team ended with a 10-6-3 overall record, securing exciting wins over opponents such as Skidmore, Clarkson, Union and RPI. The women’s team also named 14 student-athletes to the Liberty League Fall All-Academic Team.
“Overall this was an awesome season that I am proud to have been a part of,” Deitch commented. “I would have loved to have matched our in-conference record from last year, but making it to the Liberty League finals […] definitely set this season apart from the last one.”
While the outcomes of both games were not ideal, making it to the championship game is still something for the Brewers to be very proud of.