“Tight-knit, hard-working, supportive.” These words, offered by first-years Emma Tanner and Madio Wallner and sophomore Emma Trasatti, define the culture of the women’s soccer team. That ethos was evident on Saturday, Sept. 15, as the team took the pitch against the visiting SUNY Oneonta team.
The Brewers came in looking to extend their two-game win streak and did just that, dispatching the Red Dragons with a score of 2-0. Vassar’s ability to keep the intensity high and possess calmly before moving the ball upfield proved key in the decisive victory. It was a true team effort.
At 12 p.m., the referee blew their whistle and the game was underway in front of 241 fans. For the first 17 minutes of the game, Oneonta dominated. From the first whistle they started strong and out-possessed against the Brewers, winning corners and firing shots on goal. However, thanks to senior goalkeeper Camelia Manring’s three consecutive saves, Vassar was able to keep the game square at 0-0.
After multiple Oneonta attacks, as the 18th minute struck, Vassar righted the ship. Wallner explained, “We took control of the ball, settled the pace down—settled into our own game.”
The Brewers began to relax their frantic play and move the ball around, growing into the game. After a few passes, the ball reached first-year Gabi Tulk, who was able to maneuver through the Red Dragon defense and find Tanner. The first-year forward, already leading the team in goals, took Tulk’s pass and ripped a one-timer from just beyond the box over the keeper’s head and into the left corner. Vassar 1, Oneonta 0.
Hungry for more, the Brewers fought on. Play resumed shortly following the goal, and after a few Oneonta passes, Vassar was able to intercept the ball. Building out of the back, the Brewers moved upfield. To Wallner, the midfield made the difference. “[The] midfielders were calm with the ball, which made connecting into the offense a lot easier,” said the first-year attacker. “As we weren’t necessarily sending long balls to run onto, we got a lot more crosses because we were able to control the middle.”
Vassar continued to push up and, less than three minutes after their first goal, senior Sara Seper was able to connect with a jetting Ashley Ferry, a sophomore, who calmly placed the ball just out of the goalie’s reach to the far post. Vassar 2, Oneonta 0.
The remainder of the half was a steady back-and-forth. Both teams were able to initiate attacks and get shots off, but none found the target. While Oneonta won the majority of balls in the air, Vassar continued to maintain possession, communicating well when the other team pressured. The Brewers also defended superbly in transition, sprinting back to the middle before applying defensive pressure, thereby subduing the increasingly disgruntled Red Dragon offense.
The second half played out much like the first, except this time without the scoring. Vassar sustained their relaxed, unflustered demeanour. Oneonta attempted to rally, but their efforts were time and time again curbed by the Brewers’ strong defensive core.
In the 74th minute, the Red Dragons had their best look at goal when a shot by junior Cristina Kornfield ricocheted off the post. That would, however, prove to be Oneonta’s best scoring opportunity for the rest of the game. The 90th min- ute arrived. Vassar 2, Oneonta 0.
While the Brewers were able to land a solid victory, they know there is still much upon which to improve, noted Tanner: “2-0 is a solid win, but we know we are capable of doing better…we need to work on playing consistently for 90 minutes.”
Trasatti also emphasized the need to look forward. “We must try to keep our energy and intensity up throughout the game. With such a deep team, we have the personnel to do so.” stated Trasatti. “It is also critical that we don’t play down to the competition, but maintain a high level of play no matter the opponent.”
If the Brewers are able to improve in these areas, they will move one step closer to their ultimate goal: a Liberty League title and a birth in the NCAA Tournament.
The team has all of the pieces necessary to achieve their goals—strong leadership, togetherness and a dogged work ethic. It’s simply a matter of putting them together.