Emory women’s soccer wrapped up their regular season with an unfortunate 1-0 loss to the Piedmont College (Ga.) Lions Nov. 2, and a 2-0 shutout over the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Yellowjackets Nov. 4, finishing strong for their season finale.
With this final victory, the team finished 2-4-1 in the University Athletic Association (UAA) and 10-7-1 overall, marking the Eagles’ first 10-win season since 2014.
“I think we improved both individually and collectively as a team,” Head Coach Sue Patberg said. “The tough part was that we had to continue to be resilient throughout the season. After we had the rough weekend against [Case Western Reserve University (Ohio)] and [Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.)], I think a lot of players were trying to not throw in the towel but were pretty down. We had to get it together over the course of that week and change our mindset heading into the Piedmont game.”
Against Piedmont, Emory carried the upper hand for most of the game, but in the final two minutes the Lions’ only shot on goal made it past the Eagles’ defensive unit, putting Piedmont ahead for a 1-0 win.
“The outcome of the game definitely was not representative of how the game went which is the tough part about soccer,” Patberg said. “Losing to them was very hard to take because we just controlled the game, but we played significantly better soccer than we had the weekend before. There were a lot of positives coming out of that game that were not reflected in the score.”
Multiple muffed opportunities ultimately cost Emory the match. Senior midfielder Melissa Ardizzone fired a shot just shy of the Lions’ left post 36 minutes into the first half. Ardizzone led both teams with a total of three shots in the game.
Early in the second half, sophomore defender Paige Santee almost scored off a header, but Piedmont freshman goalie Miranda McNalley blocked the Eagles’ threat.
None of Emory’s 12 shots made it past the Piedmont posts, leaving the score tied deep into the second half. However, in the 88th minute, Piedmont senior midfielder Savannah Castles scored the game-winning goal. After a boot upfield from Emory sophomore goalie Haley Pratt, Piedmont sophomore forward Anslyn Stamps got a foot on the ball, touching it back upfield. Castles won the loose ball over Emory junior defender Danielle Darius, shooting it successfully into the far corner of the Eagles’ net from 20 yards out.
“It was kind of a slap in the face because we were at their goal the whole game, and then one mistake led to another, and then it was a quick goal,” Ardizzone said. “Afterward, at least for me, I was like ‘Come on guys. We still have two minutes. Let’s try to get one.’ We went down at them a few more times but we just couldn’t get it.”
Rounding out the end of the impressive season, the Eagles hosted their last conference match against the Rochester Yellowjackets. Before the match, Emory honored the team’s six seniors — Ardizzone, Melinda Altamore, Kaitlyn Dorka, Lizzie Garrett-Currie, Anna Gurney and Bahar Ulusan — with an on-field ceremony. An appropriate celebration of the seniors’ last regular season as Emory Eagles, the game marked their second win of the UAA conference and eighth and final shutout of the season.
“I think everyone just put their heart and soul into it,” Ardizzone said. “For the seniors, I think we all just wanted to go out with a definitive win because we know we’re good enough. It didn’t really show the whole season, so we were like ‘we just gotta finish the season how we wished we would’ve finished every game.’”
Quick to bounce back from Thursday’s defeat, the Eagles struck hard in the first 20 minutes of the first half when freshman midfielder Samantha Hilsee scored the go-ahead goal. Hilsee headed in the ball home off a corner kick by junior forward Abbe McCarter. The goal marked McCarter’s ninth assist this season, Emory’s highest number of assists in a single season since 2012.
Six minutes before the game’s end, junior midfielder Madison Phaneuf contributed to Emory’s lead with another header goal. Freshman forward Lily Dresner took a free kick, but the ball met Rochester freshman keeper Emma Campbell’s gloves. Collecting the rebound, Phaneuf tore through the ball in the front of the keeper, firing home in the back of the Yellowjackets’ net.
After last attempts from both teams to score with only seconds remaining on the clock, the Eagles’ and Yellowjackets’ 2017 campaigns came to an end.
Ardizzone reflected back on her years as an Emory Eagle — all the way back to her first year on the team.
“I think this year was most reflective of my freshman year,” Ardizzone said. “We had the best chemistry, the best leadership and, honestly, it was fun this year playing … I really think [next year’s team is] going to be successful.”
The Eagles will not advance to the NCAA tournament this season. The team’s last appearance came in 2014, when they were eliminated in the round of 64.