October 31, 2009

Women’s Soccer Advances to NEWMAC Semifinals; Eliminates WPI

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The 2009 New England Women's and Men's Athletics Conference (NEWMAC) Women's Soccer Championship Tournament began today with a quarterfinal match-up between #3 seed MIT and #6 WPI on Saturday at Roberts Field. Repeating its regular-season success, MIT's Engineers came up with a 4-0 victory over those from visiting WPI. With the win, MIT advances to play the #2 seed Lyons of Wheaton College in next week's semifinal.

From the start, the game's most-significant factor-the wind-took control of the ball and retained possession of it throughout most of the match. Sustaining speeds of twenty mph and gusting to well over thirty, windy conditions wreaked havoc on the players' ability to control the ball. Dozens of on-target shots and passes were torn drastically amiss as both teams struggled to adapt to mother-nature's contributions.

With the wind in their faces, the MIT Engineers controlled their uphill battle throughout the first half. With less than nine minutes to play, sophomore forward Alisha Lussiez played the ball deep in the corner and for freshman Emily Kuo open in front of the goal. WPI keeper Rebecca Newman dove off the line to break up the pass but failed to stop it from getting through. Kuo had no trouble slipping the ball into the emptied net for her twelfth goal of the season.

Coming out of the break with a 1-0 lead, MIT was re-energized, pushing with the wind instead of against it. In the 52nd minute, Lussiez added a second point to the scoreboard when she received a pass from senior Liz Theurer and slipped it by Newman. In the 55th minute, MIT's Connie Park served a corner-kick into the penalty area where WPI's Kelsey Mawhiney tried to clear it with a header. The ball fell to the feet of MIT junior Edith Reshef, whose one-touch shot found the bottom corner of the goal, putting MIT up 2-0.

Less than ninety seconds later, MIT co-captain Lauren Hernley fed a pass to Theurer, who immediately passed back to Hernley, allowing her a one-touch blast from twenty five yards for the third goal in four minutes and giving MIT a 4-0 lead.

WPI's Kristen Garza and Suzanne Najem worked the front to try to break the shutout, and though they managed to break the defensive line several times, their efforts were shut down by the ever-present wind and the combined efforts of Meghan Wright and Katy Olesnavage in goal for MIT.

With the win, MIT (10-5-2, 5-2-2) clinched a semifinal berth and will travel to championship-site Wellesley College to play Wheaton on Saturday, November 7, at 1:30 p.m. WPI (8-11-0, 4-5-0), who was 2-6-1 in NEWMAC play last year, finished with the most-improved record in the conference and looks to develop further in the off-season.