Record-setting season ends for women's soccer
AMHERST, Mass., Nov. 13 -- About the only thing that hadn't changed was the uniforms.
To be sure, the women's soccer team was still sporting the same green and white jerseys it wore in its second game of the season against the nationally-ranked University of Connecticut as it did against the Huskies in the Northeast Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
But this was a very different team than the fledgling squad that was still trying to learn each other's names as it lost to Connecticut in a wrenching, 2-1 overtime thriller in the first week of the 1993 season.
Since then, the team evolved into an experienced, tightly-knit group that marched through the competitive Ivy League unscored-upon to become the first Ancient Eight squad to qualify for the NCAA Tournament since Brown in 1986.
But, as much as things had changed, the result was still the same -- the Huskies handed Dartmouth an equally heart-breaking 3-1 loss to put an end to the most successful season in program history.
Connecticut struck just six minutes into the game, when a cross from Tammy Barnes sailed over the head of on-rushing goalie Michelle Conroy '95 and to the feet of All-American midfielder, Karen Ferguson, who banged the ball into the open net.
But the Big Green didn't hang their heads after the early goal. Instead they showed the form that made them the region's third-ranked team and battled back. Two minutes after Connecticut took the lead, the Big Green offense came charging into Husky territory.
Jess Andre '94 played the ball into the center of the box, where Kate Andrews '96 waited. Connecticut keeper Jill Gelfenbien punched Andrews' shot away, but the ball continued to bounce around in front of the net. Gelfenbien batted away another Dartmouth shot and freshman Jenna Kurowski's follow-up shot went just over the crossbar to thwart the Dartmouth's first serious assault on the Connecticut goal.
The Big Green had several other scoring opportunities in the half, but was stopped up by a combination of a feisty Connecticut defense and a few balls that wouldn't bounce their way. Still, Coach Steve Swanson was pleased with his team's play.
"We really controlled the first half," Swanson said. "We had so much ball possession that we knew that it was only a matter of time until we got a goal. We were confident because we were creating lots of good chances."
Swanson's words rang true in the opening minutes of the second half. Dartmouth was awarded a penalty kick at the 48 minute mark after a Husky defender mauled Andrews in the box. Mya Mangawang '95 evened the score when she calmly drove the penalty kick into the left corner of the net.
Connecticut took the lead for good with 21 minutes remaining in the game on what Swanson described as a "flukey goal." Kerry Page lofted a high shot from 25 yards out that somehow caught the inside of the left post and left the Dartmouth defense stunned in its tracks.
The Huskies then added an insurance goal with five minutes left in the game, when Christy Rowe outran two Dartmouth defenders and fired a shot into the left corner past a diving Conroy.
Despite the final score, Swanson was very happy with his team's effort.
"We played awfully well," he said. "At times we played our best soccer of the year. We played well enough to win, and the game was far closer than the final score indicated."
The ultimate difference in the game was that Connecticut finished well and Dartmouth did not.
"They took advantage of a few lucky breaks," Mangawang said. "We just couldn't put it into the net."
Swanson also took his hat off to Connecticut.
"You have to give full marks to UConn," he said. "They did what they had to do to stop us, and they converted when they needed to."