For their final weekend of away conference games, the Emory women’s soccer team brought home two road losses. Coming off a three-game undefeated streak, the Eagles first fell short of victory against No. 3 Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) (Pa.) in a close 2-1 match Oct. 27. Two days later, No. 8 Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) (Ohio) pounded the Eagles in an overwhelming 5-2 match.
In the 2016 NCAA conference, the CMU Tartans defeated the Eagles in a devastating 2-1 overtime loss. This year, with a warrant for redemption, the Eagles entered the CMU game hopeful and vindictive.
Action from the two teams didn’t pick up until the second half, when the Tartans scored two goals within 47 seconds of each other in the 60th minute. The first was a loose-ball header by CMU senior midfielder Morgan Kontor. Less than one minute later, CMU junior defender Alex Moy struck the back of the Eagles’ net off a curling corner kick aimed at the near post.
In the 81st minute, Emory freshman defender Lily Dresner responded with a shot into the low left of the CMU wall from 11 yards out. Capitalizing on an indirect free kick, sophomore forward Caroline Kolski dribbled around the top of the box and passed back to Dresner who finished the play.
Unfortunately, the Eagles could not cut through the Tartans’ defense and failed to score before the clock ran out, handing over another 2-1 win to CMU, who have yet to lose on home turf this season. The results reflected the overall offensive effort, as the Tartans outshot the Eagles 16-6.
“When the game went down 2-1, the game for us changed dramatically,” Head Coach Sue Patberg said. “With about 20 minutes left in the game, our whole mentality changed. Our possession in the final third, our opportunities in the final third, the corner kicks that we got … the throw-ins in the final third … it was significantly different. Had we played the entire game like we played the last 20 minutes against Carnegie Mellon, it probably would’ve been a very different result.”
Wrapping up the weekend, the Eagles battled the CWRU Spartans Oct. 29. Defeating Emory in a 5-2 match, CWRU celebrated its first NCAA conference win and first-ever victory against Emory in 31 all-time meetings.
The Eagles and Spartans went back and forth, reaching a 2-2 deadlock at the end of the first half. Junior midfielder Madison Phaneuf almost put Emory in the lead with a penalty kick, but failed to play it past the keeper. The Spartans stole the chance, running the ball down the field and marking a goal by CWRU senior midfielder Elle Zadina in the eighth minute.
Twenty-nine seconds later, CWRU sophomore goalie Lauren Unterborn deflected an Eagle cross, but Emory freshman midfielder Samantha Hilsee recovered possession. Hilsee then fired two consecutive shots, the first finding the crossbar and the second finding the back of the net.
CWRU junior forward Melanie Kukura threw the scoreboard off balance, shooting a loose ball off another rebound into the middle of the Eagles’ net. Emory responded six minutes later when junior forward Abbe McCarter made a 20-yard shot from the top of the box.
The Spartans broke away in the second half, pushing them to victory with three more goals in the final 17 minutes of play. Determined to fight until the very end, the Eagles upped the physicality, amassing two yellow cards throughout the second half. To Emory’s chagrin, their efforts went unrewarded, and the Eagles’ road weekend ended with a devastating 5-2 loss. Unlike the CMU game, however, Emory’s total shots did not echo the outcome; the Eagles more than doubled the Spartans’ shots, 25-12.
After the costly weekend, the Eagles remain at No. 6 in the University Athletic Association (UAA) conference with a 1-4-1 ledger (9-6-1 overall). To top it off, the UAA named Emory’s junior goalkeeper Dani Staffin the defender of the week for the week of Oct. 23. This achievement followed her stellar performance during the 2-0 victory against Roanoke College (Va.), which marked her fourth clean sheet of the season.
Staffin attributed a strong mental focus as a key factor in successfully guarding her post.
“As a goalie, the mentality is probably the biggest part of my game,” Staffin said. “I’m not the biggest player. I’m not the strongest player, but I’m known for being a mental player. That’s definitely something that I look … to continuously improve.”
Emory hosts the women’s soccer senior night and the Eagles’ last game of the season against No. 7 University of Rochester (N.Y.) Nov. 4 at 1:30 p.m.
“We know a lot about [Rochester],” Staffin said. “We played them last year. We definitely have a bone to pick with them because we tied. It was unfortunate, and we definitely think we were the better team and so we just need to show everybody that this year.”