CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Down a goal in the final minutes of regulation on Sunday, women’s soccer needed a big goal and got one from Alison Lu.
“Alison Lu is at her best when the stakes are the highest,” head coach Michelyne Pinard said of the senior forward, who previously scored the gamewinner against Amherst on Sept. 28. “So happy for her to have a moment like that after being injured for about a year and a half.”
Lu ran onto a pass from forward Rain Condie and beat the goalkeeper at the far post to tie the game 1-1 with just more than three minutes remaining in the second half. After two scoreless periods in extra time, substitute goalkeeper Leyla Kamshad made a save in the penalty shootout to take No. 24 Williams (10–5–3/6–3–1 in the NESCAC) past No. 5 MIT (20–1–3/10–0–0 in the NEWMAC) in the NCAA tournament.
“Overall just so pleased with the team’s grit,” Pinard said. “That is a very good MIT team and we hung with them until the end.”
MIT had entered the match having won 14 straight matches, including a 3-1 win over Williams on Oct. 13. The Engineers had not conceded a goal since Oct. 19 and had not lost since Sept. 3. The team’s 20 shutouts led all Div. III teams during what had already become its most successful season in school history.
The hosts controlled much of the early possession, outshooting Williams 9-1 in the first half. MIT targeted forwards Karenna Groff, Montana Reilly and Allie Werner along the wings. In the fourth minute, senior midfielder Sophia Struckman, an Engineer tri-captain, played a through ball for Groff, who forced a save from goalkeeper Chelsea Taylor at the near post.
Defender Nkem Iregbulem prevented an MIT goal in the 11th minute, clearing the ball of the goal line after a corner kick. Struckman had a header from close range off a delivery from Emily Berzolla, but Iregbulem — a First Team All-NESCAC selection this year — reacted quickly to keep the match scoreless.
The best chance of the half came in the 44th minute, when MIT forward Chessa Hoekstra hit the near post with a shot after forward Claire O’Callaghan played her a through ball down the left wing.
The score was level at halftime, but Groff gave MIT the lead less than three minutes into the second half. Berzolla, the NEWMAC Athlete of the Year, won the ball in Williams territory and picked out Reilly on the right side of the box. Reilly beat a defender and sent a low cross to Groff, who shot first time and placed the ball in the bottom-right corner.
The two-time reigning national champions, however, did not go down without a fight, sending numbers forward in the final half hour of regulation. After Groff’s goal, the Ephs outshot the Engineers 8-3 for the remainder of the second half.
Williams hit the post in the 82nd minute, when forward Claire Tolliver sent a ball in from the left wing. Midfielder Georgia Lord nearly got a foot to the ball, but it bounced through and off the outside of the post.
Lu nabbed the equalizer in the 87th minute. Tolliver played a long ball that the Engineers did not clear. Lord played it to Condie, who set up Lu for the score.
MIT dominated possession in extra time, outshooting Williams 7-1 over the two additional periods. Taylor made 3 saves in extra time to keep the match level. She finished with 9 saves, and Castle had 4.
The Ephs saw an opportunity in the 97th minute, winning a free kick in a dangerous area. Midfielder Victoria Laino, the team leader in goals (8) and the NESCAC Player of the Year, stepped up to take the kick. She beat the defensive wall, but Lauren Castle saved for the Engineers.
With the match still level after extra time, it went to penalty kicks.
Pinard substituted Kamshad, who had not played since Oct. 19, in for Taylor for the shootout, and the first-year delivered, saving MIT’s second attempt, a low shot from defender Stephanie Howe.
The Ephs converted all five of their shots from the spot to win the shootout 5-4 and advance to the third round of the tournament.
“Glad to get the result and have one more week with this team,” Pinard said.
Williams will play the winner of a Sunday match between No. 13 Tufts and No. 4 TCNJ.
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