Undefeated season ends in sweet 16 for women's soccer

By Ian Ritz

The Macalester women’s soccer team traveled to the University of Chicago to take on the University of Puget Sound Friday Nov. 18 in the third round of the NCAA playoffs. After scoreless regulation and overtime periods, the Scots fell to the Loggers 7-8 on penalty kicks after each team sent up nine shooters. The match pitted two of the nation’s top defensive teams against each other, and it certainly lived up to its billing. The game started out slowly with the Scots and the Loggers struggling to find a rhythm due to poor field conditions. Eventually, the Loggers were able to gain the majority of the possession and looked dangerous attacking. However, the stalwart Scot defense led by keeper Louisa Bigelow ’06 and defender Cara Goff ’06 held the score level, 0-0 at halftime.

“We were a little nervous going into the game and it showed a little in the first half,” Annie Borton ’07 said. “We picked it up in the second half and played the way we know we could,”

The second half started on a different note as the game opened up and both teams were creating scoring chances. “We really stepped it up in the second half.” Bigelow said. “We played hard the whole second half and overtime too.”

Bigelow was stellar in goal, recording 15 saves on the day, while Borton led the attack that looked increasingly threatening as the half progressed. The best chance for Mac came to Jenny Singleton ’06 as she was barely unable to reach the end of a cross midway through the period. With both teams shutting each other down the rest of the way, regulation ended in a scoreless draw.

The two 10-minute overtime periods were exciting affairs as both teams tried desperately to crack the other’s defense. Puget Sound let loose with 10 shots and three corner kicks through the extra time, but Mac held firm, with Bigelow recording six saves in the 20 minutes.

With neither team succeeding in regulation or the overtimes, the game went to a penalty-kick shootout to decide who would move on in the tournament. The Loggers and the Scots both scored four of the first five shots and it wasn’t until the ninth shooter that the game was decided.

The Scots’ last shot glanced off the left post, while the Loggers were able to capitalize and advanced to the quarterfinals. The loss was reminiscent of the end to last year’s season, when Mac fell to Washington University 4-5 on penalty kicks in the same round. “I was upset that we lost,” Katie Pastorious ’06 said. “But I’ve played in plenty of big game shoot outs and it comes down to luck.”

Ironically, for official results, the game will be marked as a draw. That gives the Scots their first-ever undefeated season at 20-0-2. While the women fell short of the ultimate goal, and the season ended in heartbreak, 2005 was still one of the team’s most successful seasons ever. In addition to going undefeated, Mac took home the conference regular-season and playoff championship crowns for the second time in as many years. They had five All-Conference players Bigelow, Pastorious, Goff, Meghan Leahey ’06, and MIAC MVP Annie Borton, as well as the MIAC Coach of the Year, John Leaney.

The Scots walk away from this year knowing they lose some top talent all around. In addition to unbreakable line in back of Bigelow, Goff, and Adrienne Keller ’06, Mac will have to replace strong midfield play from Leahey and Singleton, and scoring attacks from Pastorius and Olof Petursdottir ’06. Despite graduating these great players, the soccer program is strong enough to continue its legacy of success.