by Roger Wistar
Sofia Weber '20 scored deep into the second half to give the girls varsity soccer team a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Worcester Academy in the New England quarterfinals on Nov. 15.
The Bearcats avenged their regular-season loss to the Rams with some inspired and gritty play in a highly entertaining game that saw wide momentum shifts for both teams, shots on open nets that went wide, and spectacular saves.
In the end, it was the free-kick goal at 65' by Weber, who launched a high shot from about 25 yards that curled up and to the left, over the outstretched hand of the Worcester goalie and into the back corner of the net.
Equally valuable to the Bearcats was goalie Gillian Duquette '19, who made several crucial saves to prevent certain Rams goals and keep the home team in the game in the first half, when the visitors seemed to have the advantage early on.
Duquette ranged far out of her goal to smother an early chance in the second half, and also calmly stopped a point-blank shot at 84' to preserve the lead.
The best chance for the visitors came near the end of the first half, when a Rams forward received a pass through and had a clear path to the goal. Her shot was pulled wide right, however, and the two teams went into halftime with a scoreless tie.
In an incredible coincidence, Bearcat forward Louisa Essuman '20 had her own nearly identical chance from the same spot at 45', but she also pushed the ball right of an open net.
The two teams attacked and counterattacked in waves, with Worcester repeatedly launching deep through passes to try to connect with their forwards. Hotchkiss fullbacks Meredith Moran '19 and Sophie Rivest '19 were key to blunting the attack, intercepting and deflecting those passes back to the Bearcat offense.
Reserve striker Hyla Mosher '19 also distinguished herself in both halves, injecting energy and speed into the Hotchkiss attack each time when she entered the game.
Mosher provided one of the best offensive chances on the day for Hotchkiss. Late in the second half, she maneuvered the ball into the Worcester six-yard box and ripped a point-blank shot that was deflected by the goalie. The ball fell to another Hotchkiss attacker, but her shot was blocked by a Rams defender and the chance was nullified.
With the win, the Bearcats earn a semifinal berth and another rematch, this time against #2 Loomis on Saturday. The Pelicans earned a 3-0 victory on Nov. 8.
If they win, the team will earn a return trip to Windsor on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. to face the winner of #1 Nobles vs. #5 BB&N, also at Loomis.