Oct. 21, 2006
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - MIT women's soccer shook up the NEWAC playoff picture on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over second-place Smith College at Steinbrenner Stadium. Rookie forward Liz Theurer delivered her league-best seventh game-winning goal of the season in the 57th minute to clinch the key conference victory.
Although Theurer connected with the game-winner early in the second half, Tech's first-year standout sparkled throughout the match and helped MIT (10-6-0, 5-3-0) sustain offensive pressure early in the opening frame. Despite keeping the ball in the Smith end, the Pioneers (8-6-1, 5-2-1) prevented the Engineers from registering a shot before responding with some pressure of their own while posting the first official shot nine minutes into the match.
MIT got its first shot and legitimate scoring chance in the 14th minute as Theurer made a nifty move on a Smith defender before sending a great ball through to junior Amy Ludlum, who promptly re-directed the pass onto the Smith net where starter Lauren Bachtel secured the game's first save.
The Pioneers earned their best chance of the tilt in the 20th minute, although Kat Vater made an incredible save on the goal line after a cross bounced awkwardly through a maze of players. Smith ended the half with a 5-4 advantage in shots, although neither team was able to break the scoreless deadlock.
The Engineers picked up steam early in the second half and almost got a goal in the 48th minute off a header by Ashleigh Leonard, although Bachtel made a great stop to prevent the score. Freshman Katie Pesce missed wide on an excellent effort 10 minutes later. Soon after Pesce's near-goal, Ludlum intercepted a pass in the middle of the field and delivered a tremendous pass to Theurer. Theurer split two Smith defenders en route to the only score of the game as the rookie buried the ball beyond the reach of the Bachtel and into the middle of the net.
MIT had several chances to extend the lead, including a goal-line feed from Ludlum that was scooped up by Smith's back-up keeper Marlowe Dieckmann. Smith answered back with a drive down the field that resulted in a direct kick just outside of the box. The Pioneers' attempt on goal was blocked by MIT's defensive wall and erased the immediate threat.
With five minutes left in regulation, Smith upped its offensive pressure. Sara Dilegge made a great pass just beyond the reach of Danielle Scmandt in the 85th minute, while Janine Olthuis had a good look blocked in the 86th minute. In the 87th minute, rookie Hailey Bird finally put a clean shot on net, although Vater was there to make the save. Smith had one final chance after a free kick in the 90th minute, but the MIT defense cleared the threat and preserved the win.
With the victory, MIT secured a double-figure win total for the first time in four years and a winning season in league play. The Engineers have been paced all season by Ludlum, who added to her NEWMAC-leading scoring totals with Saturday's assist. Ludlum leads the conference with 39 points, the highest single-season total for an MIT player since Kelli Griffin's 41-point campaign in 2001.