WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — Williams first-year Hannah Levin toe-tapped a shot home in the 80th minute Saturday, lifting the second-seeded Williams College women's soccer team into the NESCAC championship game via a 2-1 win over eighth-seed Wesleyan at Cole Field.
It will be the sixth straight trip to the NESCAC championship for the Ephs, who lost to Amherst last year but won the previous four. Williams (12-3-1) will play fourth-seed Bowdoin (11-3-2) at 12 p.m. Sunday.
In Saturday's semifinal, Wesleyan took an early 1-0 lead after a nice run up field by Laura Kurash, who sent a crisp pass to Kaylin Berger just outside the top right-hand corner of the box. Berger turned and fired a shot into the upper ninety at the near post at the 18:54 mark.
"This team is steady, they don't get too frazzled," Ephs' head coach Michelyne Pinard said. "We had a game plan and we stuck with it. Thankfully, everyone did their jobs, they executed our plan and we were able to get the result we wanted."
The Williams attack was stymied for much of the first half by a determined Wesleyan backline, but when Ali Magruder was taken down just outside the box in the 40th minute, the Ephs were awarded an in-direct kick on an obstruction call. Senior Sam Vilaboa came on and calmly placed a perfect shot in the lower left-corner of the goal to tie the game at one.
The game stayed that way until late. Two minutes after Levin entered the game as a substitute, the Ephs were earned a corner. Nothing came of the corner but Williams was able to keep the ball in the Wesleyan half and eventually Louisa Costa blasted a long cross from the sideline into the box, where it skipped through, just past Eph Carla Nicasio and all the way to the far left post, where Levin was able to get just enough to send it into the corner for a 2-1 lead.
"[Levin] is a phenomenal player," Pinard said. "But she's coming off an injury and we have to make sure we use her at the right times. It worked out for us today."
Wesleyan had two shots in the final 10 minutes, but one was blocked and the other was saved by Eph keeper Hannah Van Wetter, who made three in the game.
The Ephs had a slight edge in shots, 11-10, while Wesleyan held a 3-2 advantage in corners. Van Wetter and Laura Wann combined for five saves for Williams, while Rachel Holbert and Jessica Tollman combined for four saves for the Cardinals.