The Castleton women’s soccer team fell 2-0 to Middlebury College last Thursday night at Spartan Stadium.
Entering Thursday’s contest the Spartans had won back-to-back games against conference opponents by at least four goals, but fell short thanks to the Panther’s accurate and crisp passing game.
Castleton’s back line helped slow down the Middlebury forwards, drawing them offside twice in the first six minutes.
“They’re really good at through balls and knowing where the spaces were, but we adjusted and our defense slid together and worked together so we could eliminate as many passes as we could,” said senior Justine Rotz.
But Middlebury’s Adrianna Gildner was able to find that space, setting up Hannah Robinson for the early goal. Robinson ran onto Gildner’s through ball on the right side just inside the box, placing a shot just over Castleton keeper Jessica Binkowski and into the top left corner of the net, putting them ahead 1-0 just over seven minutes into the contest.
The Spartans went into halftime trailing the Panthers by one, but felt confident in their play.
“They really challenged us. They moved the ball really quick, but I think we held them. They did get through a couple times, but I think we could recover and it was definitely a learning experience for our defense,” said senior Allie Vachon.
Middlebury came back from halftime with a little bit more spark than the first half. Four minutes into the second half Robinson fired a shot from 22 yards out that was saved by Binkowski and deflected off of the crossbar. The rebound landed at the feet of Gildner whose shot was stopped by Binkowski point blank from six yards out.
But that rebound came right back to Gildner who put it in the back of the net, adding her second of the night and putting the Panthers up 2-0.
Middlebury continued to attack throughout the second half of the period, but the Castleton defense began to adjust and limited the opportunities for quality chances.
“I think we absorbed a lot of pressure, I think we gained confidence in our ability to defend against another good team. I don’t think in any shape or form we panicked,” said Castleton head coach Chris Chapedelaine.
Chapedelaine emphasized that although they try and win every game, non-conference games like these prepare his team later in the season when facing conference opponents.
“I wanted to make sure that we had a game in there that was going to set the tone, was going to set the pace, was going to set the speed of play that we need to come out to be successful,” Chapedelaine said.
Castleton and Colby Sawyer College continue to fight for the No.1 seed in the approaching NAC playoffs. Castleton looks to remain perfect in conference play as they take on Husson at 1 p.m. Saturday and Maine Maritime at 12 p.m. on Sunday both at Spartan Stadium.