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Wednesday, Dec 6, 2023

Women’s soccer falls short of the NESCAC Tournament

The women's soccer team finished ninth in the NESCAC with a 2-4-4 record in the conference.
The women's soccer team finished ninth in the NESCAC with a 2-4-4 record in the conference.

The Middlebury women’s soccer team has officially concluded their season, finishing ninth in the NESCAC despite a win against second place conference opponent Williams College on Tuesday, Oct. 24, narrowly missing the opportunity to compete for the NESCAC title. 

Overall, the Panthers’ season record was a positive one, with six wins, four losses, and five draws. Unfortunately, the team’s conference record paled in comparison as the team finished 2–4–4. Coming off of a considerably more successful 2022 season (10–5–1 overall and 5–4–1 in the NESCAC), the season was certainly not everything the Panthers had hoped or expected. 

There was no shortage of action this season; having scored 28 goals overall against only 15 scored by their opponents, the Panthers’ offense clearly has the firepower to score. Rather, it appears as though the silent killer of the Panthers’ season were in-conference ties. 

The stats tallied in the 0–0 showdown against Wesleyan University on Sept. 30 accurately depict the frustration the team experienced this season, according to Maddie Schin ’24.5. Middlebury took 25 shots and 14 on target compared to Wesleyan’s eight but was unable to find the back of the net. The Panthers had six corner kick opportunities in comparison to the Cardinals’ one. 

This theme carried through the following weekend against Colby College, where the Panthers more than doubled the Mules’ attempts to score and still found no success, tying again 0–0. 

At the conclusion of the Panthers’ season, the team finished third for shots on goal with an impressive 279 in 15 games played. It was not until their final matchup, an unexpected victory against Williams, that Middlebury was able to break their duck and find their flow on the field. 

To any observer of this season for the Panthers, it appears that building a successful soccer season in the NESCAC is as much of an art as it is a science.

This season, Middlebury underwent a large-scale changing of the guard defensively, both concerning the style of play and the personnel charged with starting the attack. New core defenders Schin, Roshann Purcell ’26 and Beatrice Donovan ’23.5 spent the season looking to build possession out of the back in contrast to the kickball style of defense taken in prior years.

Offensively, the season was a bit more complicated. Between Gigi Day ’27, Joely Virzi ’24, Sophia Cole ’25, Abby Ward ’25, and Ella Gagnon ’23.5, it was nearly impossible to predict who was going to take the field and when. While the depth of the team’s offense was certainly an asset, the frequent rotation of players may have hindered the team’s ability to find a steady rhythm. 

In soccer, a sport often referred to as a “game of inches” because of how low-scoring it tends to be, there is an argument to be made that the best team on the field is not always the one that walks away with the win. 

“I could argue both ways for sure,” Schin said. “Overall it was just so frustrating because we could feel as a team how good we were and just weren’t quite able to get it done.”

Though the team showed signs of brilliance at the beginning and end of the season, the Panthers struggled to put the ball in the back of the net in critical moments. 

But do not expect them to stay down for long. With a pool of talented young players and an astonishing rising 16 seniors next year, fans have plenty of reason to believe the women’s soccer team can be back in top form next fall.