The Emory women’s soccer team’s three-game winning streak came to an end at home in front of a season-record of 225 fans. Despite a phenomenal performance from both teams, the defending Division III National Champions and current No. 2 Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) came out on top Sept. 7. The Bears clawed their way to a 1-0 finish, ending the Eagles’ winning streak.
“We knew what we were going to be up against,” Head Coach Sue Patberg said. “This is my 12th year playing [WashU]. Every year they’re a little bit different, but they were what we expected them to be.”
The ball played mostly in Emory’s favor in the first 15 minutes, recording multiple shots against WashU. Eager to set a triumphant tone, each team put its most aggressive foot forward, accumulating foul after foul in what quickly became a very physical game. The score seemed locked at zero as the teams wrestled for control, but WashU sophomore forward Taylor Cohen’s header in the 19th minute broke the stalemate, handing WashU a 1-0 advantage.
“In these games against [highly-ranked teams], sometimes it’s not about who’s the better team,” Patberg said. “It’s sometimes about who makes the least mistakes, and that’s what it came down to. We recognized late that they played kind of a short ball, and that player was able to dribble it in about 10 yards before she served it … and her serve was spot on. We failed to clear it, and so, in that game we made the one mistake.”
For the rest of the game, the Eagles and the Bears fought an aggressive battle, featuring beautiful crosses from sophomore forward Shivani Beall, a stellar block by sophomore defender Paige Santee and commendable performances from Eagle keepers junior Dani Staffin in the first half and sophomore Haley Pratt in the second half. Overall, the Bears showed dynamic attempts both offensively and defensively.
“Before the game started actually, we talked about how every single person on that field had to sacrifice their body and sacrifice themselves for this team, and that was my contribution,” Santee said on clearing the ball after it nearly rolled through the Eagle goal posts. “That ball was not going in that goal, if it was me or my keeper or anybody else — and it was me.”
The referee issued three yellow cards to both teams during the second half. In the end, the Eagles outshot the Bears 9-8, but failed to deliver the tying goal before time expired.
“In the second half, we were getting called for fouls left and right and I’m not so sure what the official was seeing so that made it … a more frustrating experience, but it was what we expected,” Patberg said. “It’s always very physical, and if the official doesn’t do a good job of keeping a hold of the game, then it can really escalate.”
WashU maintains a 24-game winning streak spanning back to last season, thereby improving to 9-0-1, knocking Emory down to 6-3 and 0-1 in the UAA conference.
The Eagles recouped from their loss when they flew against the Huntingdon College (Ala.) Hawks at home Oct. 3. After a quiet first half, Emory secured a 2-0 victory with back-to-back goals by junior defender Nikki Batt and freshman midfielder Samantha Hilsee.
The going doesn’t get any easier for the Eagles, who fly north Oct. 7 for their second contest in UAA play against No. 1-ranked University of Chicago.