Women battle best, worst

Tim Ruberton

The women’s soccer team provided a study in opposites last weekend at Whiting Field in their matches against Grinnell College on Saturday and against Knox College on Sunday. The Saturday game against the powerful Grinnell side was a lopsided affair, won 2-0 by Grinnell, distinguished from a Viking perspective only by the stellar play of sophomore keeper Candice Gangl, who did her level best to keep her team in the game despite the ball spending almost the full 90 minutes in her half of the field.
Gangl made 16 saves in the losing effort and would have made 17 had the referee been paying attention. The first Grinnell goal (such as it was) was scored in the 61st minute when Gangl, clearly having captured a Grinnell corner kick with both hands, was jostled by a Pioneer attacker and wound up conceding the goal to Katherine Ni in the ensuing scrum. The second goal came three minutes later when Grinnell’s Kara Moskowitz launched a ridiculously perfect shot from well beyond the penalty box that dived in just over Gangl’s outstretched hands and just under the crossbar. One or the other would’ve been plenty for Grinell, as the Vikes were utterly thwarted offensively, disturbing Grinnell keeper Liz Carrier’s vacation with precisely one shot. Grinnell improved to 5-0-0 in conference with the victory.
The perfect remedy for Lawrence’s frustration visited the valley the next day in the form of hapless conference punching bag Knox College, which came in 0-4-0 and failed to improve, to say the least. The Vikes enjoyed themselves mightily in dismantling the Prairie Fire 9-0, as freshman Jackie Bean scored twice – her third and fourth goals of the season – before your somnolent correspondent even made it over the river. Claire Thompson-Vieira, a senior midfielder who, tending toward defense, is not accustomed to scoring, notched her first-ever collegiate goal in the tenth minute and the rout was on.
Another senior midfielder, Mallory Sturmer, floated a bad-angle shot from the right side past helpless Knox goalie Emily Jackson in the 29th minute – her first goal of the year. Junior forward Mindy Luber scored consecutive goals to round out the first half, the second of which earned an early nomination for Weird Play of the Decade. Luber’s cross from the right corner sailed more or less parallel to the goal line and was corralled loosely by the Knox keeper, who played a fumblerooski directly into her own net. The scorers, after much deliberation, awarded the goal to Luber, saving a measure of dignity for Jackson, who avoided the ignominy of an own-goal.
In the second half, the drama was reduced to wondering who would score next. Naturally, the defenders had to get in on the act, with junior Annemarie Exarhos and senior Maggie Leverence lofting shots over Jackson. Exarhos’ goal, her second of the year, was of the long arcing variety, while Leverence’s first goal in her college career was something of a chip shot from near the penalty mark. Sophomore Tara McGovern contributed her first goal of the season to round out the scoring.
The Vikes are now 2-2-1 in the conference with powerhouses Grinnell and Lake Forest already seen. Standing at fourth in the conference, the team now focuses on what could be their first playoff berth in three years. They will have to be the masters of their own destinies as they still have games with just about every other team vying for remaining playoff spots. They start this process at home against Carroll on Saturday the 8th at 1 p.m.