Women’s soccer wins UAA title

Junior Becky Berels (22) and sophomore Lillie Toaspern (26) team up to steal possession of the ball from Millikin University in the first half of the women's soccer team's 5-0 victory Tuesday night. The Bears defeated the University of Rochester, 2-1, and Case Western Reserve University, 3-0, this weekend to clinch a UAA title and earn their seventh consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.

When the dust settled, the No. 5 Washington University women’s soccer team knew the season wouldn’t end next weekend.

Wash. U. defeated the University of Rochester 2-1 Friday and Case Western Reserve University 3-0 Sunday to win the University Athletic Association, its eighth conference title overall and first since 2009, earning a trip to the NCAA tournament for the seventh straight season.

“Winning the UAA feels amazing; everyone was definitely really excited,” sophomore forward Anna Zambricki said. “It was one of our goals for the season, so it’s nice to check something off our list and take away some pressure so we can just have fun and play toward our next goals.”

About 30 minutes after the game between the Wash. U. Bears and CRWU Spartans finished, New York University upset No. 1 Emory University 1-0 in double overtime, giving Wash. U. a three-point lead over Carnegie Mellon University and a five-point lead over the Eagles in UAA play with one game to play. Because the Bears defeated Carnegie Mellon University 3-0 on Sept. 30, they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker and earned the UAA’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Bears got two late goals from sophomore Lillie Toaspern to rally for a 2-1 win over Rochester. Wash. U., taking advantage of a 0-0 tie between Emory and Brandeis University, seized sole possession of first place in the UAA.

Both teams came out swinging in Friday’s match as the first half was fairly even. The Bears had four corner kicks to just one for Rochester, but the Yellowjackets found the net first as Katie Sappio headed in a cross from the right wing in the 35th minute. The Bears were down 0-1 at halftime.

Whatever head coach Jim Conlon said at the break worked because Wash. U. came out in the second half with a vengeance, outshooting Rochester 12-0.

Toaspern had been one of six Bears substituted out of the game in the 67th minute, but she returned to the pitch at the 74:05 mark. One minute and 16 seconds later, she tied the game.

“The first goal came from a scramble in the box. The ball was crossed to [freshman] Abby Starker, who trapped it and passed it to [junior] Jen Reed. [Reed] got me the ball, and I turned, beat my defender and shot,” Toaspern said.

Although the Bears took five shots in the final 10 minutes of regulation, they failed to find the back of the net, and the game proceeded to overtime.

Extra time didn’t last long.

Toaspern scored her seventh goal of the season just 2:06 into the first overtime period, ending the game and giving Wash. U. a 2-1 victory on the road.

“On the second goal, [freshman] Olivia Lillegraven flicked the ball to me. I was just inside the 18-yard box and shot it far post,” Toaspern said.

“The win was a team victory,” Toaspern continued. “We kept Rochester under pressure the entire second half with relentless attacks, and I was just lucky enough to be in the right spot at the right time. We knew we were the better team and that a goal was going to come; we just needed to keep working.”

Wash. U. got all the scoring they needed from Zambricki in its 3-0 victory over Case Western on Sunday.

The Red and Green faced some adversity right away, as conditions at the start of the match in Cleveland, Ohio, were hazardous at 43 degrees and raining. On top of that, Toaspern was injured while taking a shot in the sixth minute and had to leave the game.

“The wind and rain made things a little uncomfortable, but we try not to worry about things we can’t control,” senior goalkeeper Clara Jaques said. “We were just super-motivated to end the long weekend on a high note. Everyone came out hard and played a solid 90 minutes in some really tough conditions.”

At the 29:40 mark, Zambricki found the back of the net with a beautiful shot. After receiving the ball on the right wing, she shot the ball from about 25 yards out, a rocket that found the upper corner of the far post to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.

Just 39 seconds later, Zambricki scored again, this time from about six yards out on the right side of the box. After dribbling around a defender, Zambricki bent the ball around the keeper, and Wash. U. took a 2-0 lead into the break.

“It was definitely slick, and we were playing on a fast field, but we were able to get behind them a couple of times because of that, and we’re all confident that our defense can handle it on the other end,” Zambricki said.

Zambricki completed her second hat trick of the season with a header in the 85th minute off a corner kick from the left side by junior Kate Doyle. The wind was gusting strongly enough to blow over the corner flag right before the kick. After Doyle picked the flag up, she sent a kick to the near post, where Zambricki headed the ball across the goal into the back right corner.

“We haven’t been changing a ton this season with the way we play, so we just have to keep the spark going between us players and enjoy the times we get to play,” Zambricki said.

The Red and Green will wrap up their regular season with a home game against the University of Chicago on Nov. 3. Kickoff is at noon.

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