WILLIAMSTOWN — Six matches into the 2021 season, the Williams College women's soccer team is still looking to get on a roll.
The Ephs came out flying in the first 10 minutes against Trinity Saturday afternoon at Cole Field, but Bantams' goalkeeper Jennifer Stuart was equal to the task. Midway through the first half, things changed. For the Ephs, things did not change for the better.
Tess Flanders' goal in the 24th minute broke a scoreless tie and helped Trinity beat the Ephs 1-0 in the first game of a women's/men's doubleheader at Cole.
While both teams had five shots on goal in the game, Williams (2-3-1) seemed to have the better territorial advantage for long stretches of the contest. The Ephs did outshoot the Bantams (4-1-1) 16-5 in the game, but the Ephs were unable to get on the board. Williams falls to 0-3 in NESCAC play, and each loss was by a 1-0 score.
"It's hard. It's hard to lose a game like that. It's hard to lose a game like the one we had last weekend, where we created enough to win," said first-year Williams coach Sarah Raymond, referring to a 1-0 loss on the road at top-ranked Tufts. "It's been a tough start."
"We're very close," said senior Aspen Pierson. "Hopefully, with a couple more games under our belts, we'll be flying."
Two of Williams' younger players had a foot in those early chances for the Ephs.
Just two minutes in, first-year Meredith Tutun's shot on net was saved by Stuart. It was the first of four outstanding chances for the Ephs to get on the board first. After Tutun's chance, junior Maria Parker's shot was denied by Stuart, Eph first-year Parker Harnett's header was stopped and then Pierson's shot hit off the crossbar. That's four chances and no goals.
In the first 20 minutes, the visitors from Hartford, Conn., had not taken a shot on goal as Williams bottled the Bantams up pretty successfully.
When the 24th minute came, the Bantams struck.
Whitney Hoban took a shot that Williams keeper Chelsea Taylor made a stop on. The ball bounced around inside the 18, and Flanders managed to control the ball. The sophomore from Norwell deposited the ball in the back of the goal for a 1-0 lead that Trinity never relinquished.
"Of course it's frustrating," said Pierson. "That's soccer though. It's something we're going to have to deal with and learn how to come back from, if we get scored on in any game. We'll be resilient."
"I felt a little bit of flatness from our team and a little bit of doubt" after the goal, Raymond said. "I think we didn't play the same way for 10 minutes that was working for us. That's a little bit of a sign of inexperience. Our young players are getting a lot of learning moments right now, and that's only going to help us in the future."
Williams had eight shots to one for Trinity in the second half. The Bantams didn't get theirs until Sadie Rudolph missed the net in the final six minutes of regulation. The Ephs, however, were just off target on those eight shots. With 10 minutes left, Harnett's volley just missed ducking inside the post.
"We're young. We're much younger than I anticipated, because we've had a lot of injuries to our upperclassmen," said the Eph head coach. "A little more experience on the field would help to settle us in certain moments. Having said that, we've seen so many good things already this season from our young players. We've created in every game, we've created many game-winning opportunities. At this point, we just have to keep the faith and know that it's going to happen for us.
"As we start getting healthier, it's going to add to what is happening on the field already."
"Like Coach Raymond said, that's the hope," said Pierson. "Once we figure it out for our team, we'll hopefully go with it and grow from there."