Armed with an appetite for redemption after a tough 4-0 defeat from the top-ranked University of Chicago (Ill.) Maroons Oct. 7, the Eagles survived a weekend of stiff competition at home with a 1-1 draw against No. 5 New York University (NYU) Oct. 13 and a 3-0 win over No. 3 Brandeis University (Mass.) Oct. 15.
Junior defender Nikki Batt said that she thought the team may not have been mentally prepared for the start of the match against Chicago.
“We were on our heels the entire game,” Batt said. “That being said, I don’t think the score reflected how we played. I think we got very unlucky with a lot of things and a lot of mental lapses. At the end of the day, we felt more defeated and upset because we didn’t play the way we should’ve played … Everything chose to go wrong at the same time. I think a lot of people were off that game. I don’t know if it was weather, or if it was an away trip. That’s no excuse, but I think there were a lot of things that went into how our performance turned out.”
Nevertheless, the Eagles showed signs of life early on against the Maroons. That energy was short-lived.
“At the beginning of the game we actually had a lot of really good chances — early — and then we couldn’t build any more momentum off of that,” Head Coach Sue Patberg said.
Picking themselves back up from the Chicago setback, the Eagles avoided another loss with a 1-1 stalemate against the NYU Violets Oct. 13. The match extended into overtime, but neither team gained the upperhand after the allotted 20 minutes that concluded the 2-hour and 33-minute game.
Freshman forward Lily Dresner netted the first goal of her college career before the end of the first half from a free kick, landing the ball in the left side of the Violets’ net. The Violets retaliated quickly, catching Emory off guard just three minutes into the second half. NYU sophomore forward Alex Benedict dribbled in from the outside corner of the penalty box, striking the tying goal into the far corner of the Eagles’ net.
Coming into overtime, the Eagles came in hot but failed to penetrate the Violets’ back line. In a final attempt to gain the advantage on the scoreboard, junior forward Abbe McCarter, sophomore forward Caroline Kolski and junior defender Nikki Batt delivered three consecutive shots on goal in the last two minutes in the first half of overtime. In the end, Emory almost doubled NYU in the number of the shots taken, 22-12, but couldn’t put a single one past NYU’s keeper.
“We’re notorious for taking lots of shots and not making a lot of them,” Batt said. “One of our main focuses this season is trying to get our percentage of shots taken and shots scored to go up. We’ve always had that issue, but one of the things I think we need to work on more as a team is being more dangerous in the box and taking shots outside the box.”
Two days later, Emory women’s soccer celebrated its first University Athletic Association (UAA) win Oct. 15, with a 3-0 shutout against the Brandeis Judges. The game was Brandeis’ second loss of the season, putting an end to the Judges’ 12-game undefeated streak.
After a relatively quiet first half, play went downhill for the Judges when their starting keeper, sophomore Sierra Dana, contracted a serious knee injury early into the second half. With their other goalkeeper also out on injury, junior forward and emergency backup keeper Minjee Lee undertook the responsibility of guarding the Judges’ net. Despite Lee’s inexperience in goal, she accrued a total of three saves for Brandeis off Emory’s aggressive offensive unit.
Taking advantage of the goalkeeper change, the Eagles cracked down on the Judges in the second half. Shortly after Lee’s arrival in the net, her goalkeeping skills were put to the test when sophomore forward Shivani Beall fired from the top of the box. Lee slowed the shot, but the ball snuck past the goal line, setting Emory in the lead.
Seven minutes later, junior defender Danielle Darius headed a loose ball into the back of the Judges’ net off a combo play from teammates Dresner and freshman forward Anne Otterbein. Dresner’s free kick found Otterbein in the box, who chested the ball to Darius for the finish.
“[Patberg] really likes our defenders flying up, getting numbers in the box,” Batt said. “She’s very attack-minded, so [Darius] and I try to get in there as much as we can.”
Wrapping up the second half, senior forward Melissa Ardizzone collected a rebound and her first goal of the season after senior forward Kaitlyn Dorka pressured the keeper with three consecutive attempts on goal. Overall, the Eagles totaled four times as many shots on goal as the Judges, 12-3.
The Eagles play a non-conference game against Roanoke College (Va.) Oct. 21 at home.
“It was really important for us to just come out of this weekend with a win and a tie,” Patberg said. “The intensity in training was significantly better, and I think it’s nice that when you train hard, it pays off, and that’s what the results were against Brandeis.”