#2 women’s soccer breaks through late fighting #20 NYU for third-straight conference win

and | Contributing Reporter and Sports Editor

The Bears have still not conceded a goal and remain the NCAA’s sole clean sheet. (Clara Richards | Student Life)

In the 80th minute of their first away conference contest, the Washington University women’s soccer team found itself in an unfamiliar position: it wasn’t winning. With the clock winding down, the New York University (NYU) Violets had the Bears on the brink of dropping points for the first time all season. As the game entered the last 10 minutes tied 0-0, WashU was forced to defend attack after attack with its perfect start to the season on the line.

When asked about the mentality of the team going into the game, sophomore Grace Ehlert said, “​​We went into the game prepared as a team and knew our roles positionally, and we played our style.”

Fortunately for the Bears, senior goalkeeper Sidney Conner and the squad’s veteran backline were up to the test. Despite facing a season-high 19 shots throughout the game, Conner made eight saves, keeping WashU in the contest as the clock wound down.

In the 85th minute, the Bears finally found their breakthrough. Following a big stop from Conner, the Bears demonstrated their counter-attacking abilities. After a pass from sophomore Ella Koleno was misplayed by an NYU defender, Ehlert stole it, dribbled into the box, and found herself one-on-one with the NYU goalkeeper. Under pressure, Ehlert sent the ball into the back of the net for her fifth goal of the season, placing her second among the Bears’ top scorers.

The Bears would hold onto the win, bringing them to 12-0-0 on the season and moving them up in the NCAA Division III rankings from #3 to #2. The Bears have still not conceded a goal and remain the NCAA’s sole clean sheet. WashU is now just seven games away from the collegiate soccer record of 19 consecutive shutouts, which was set by St. Joseph’s College of Maine’s men’s soccer team in 2017.

With the victory, WashU handed the Violets their second loss of the season in a closely fought game, dropping them to 1-1 in University Athletic Association (UAA) conference play and bringing the Bears to 3-0. 

In the highly competitive game, NYU outshot the Bears with 19 shots — eight of which were on-target — while WashU only had seven shots throughout the game, targeting the goal four times, its lowest so far this season.

The majority of the game was a tense stalemate, with both teams displaying formidable defensive capabilities. It was a true battle of wills, with neither side willing to concede a goal easily. With Ehlert’s goal, the Bears broke the deadlock in the 85th minute, and they held on for the last five minutes for their 12th victory of the season.

When asked how the team performed overall, Ehlert said, “NYU was a great team, and our team did a great job executing our game and playing gritty all over the field for the whole 90 minutes. It was a great battle against another great UAA opponent.”

The Bears will now embark on a challenging stretch of two away conference games against Top 10 teams. First, they will take on #3 Carnegie Mellon University, before facing #6 Case Western Reserve University, the defending UAA champions. After narrowly passing the test at NYU, the Bears will need to take their play to another level next week as they continue their push for a UAA championship.

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