NORTHFIELD, Minn.—On Senior Day at Bell Field, a trio of seniors shined brightest and added to their Carleton College women’s soccer legacy.
Niki Tomita (Redwood City, Calif./Woodside), Abby Wills (Portland, Ore./St. Mary’s) and Linnea Carlson (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township) all tallied goals in the first 45 minutes as the Knights cruised past rival St. Olaf College 3-0.
The win earned the Knights (11-5-2, 8-2-1 MIAC) a share of their second consecutive conference regular-season crown and the third overall in program history.
The Knights put the pressure on early and were rewarded in the 18th minute when Tomita loosed a shot from the upper right corner of the penalty box for her third tally of the season. The Knights maintained the pressure and Wills gathered in a loose ball after her own corner kick, and her looping shot went over the Ole keeper in the 34th minute.
The scoring closed in the 39th minute when Carlson, streaking through the box, finished off a great pass from Ellie Wilson (Fy./Roseville, Minn.) with her right foot for Carlson’s first goal of 2011.
The Knights offense wasn’t quite as potent in the second half, as the Oles (10-5-3, 5-4-2 MIAC) held a 9-2 advantage in shots, but the visitors managed to place only two of those nine chances on frame. Carleton keeper Beth Ashinsky (Jr./ Chappaqua, N.Y./Horace Greeley) posted her ninth shutout of the season and 18th of her career, making a trio of saves on the afternoon.
The final 45 minutes was a very physical affair as well, but the Knights backline stood stout against the Ole onslaught, spearheaded by senior Rachel Foran (River Forest, Ill./ Oak Park River Forest).
The win capped an amazing four weeks of play for the Knights. Heading into October the Knights sat in eighth place on the MIAC table and were 4-5-1 overall after an Oct. 2 loss to Luther College (Iowa). The Knights are now unbeaten in their last eight matches and are playing their best soccer heading into the conference tournament, where they’ve advanced to the title game four times in the last five years.
“[This run is a] credit to the team. We definitely had our rough patches in September but we kept working hard,” Carleton head coach Keren Gudeman said. “ We have so many dynamic attacking players, so we focused a lot on
becoming more offensive minded and moving the ball more quickly in to dangerous areas on the field. We've really come together as a team at the right time.”
Of course, championship soccer usually starts with solid defense, and Gudeman pointed out that’s been the case during Carleton’s surge, as they’ve allowed but two goals in the last 754:11 of game action.
“Our defensive unit has been organized and is communicating so well. They have shut down some terrific attacking players, some of whom we saw today against St. Olaf. Our team's defensive teamwork has been tremendous,” Gudeman said.
The Knights, MIAC Playoff champions in 2008 and 2009, share the regular-season title with the College of St. Benedict and are seeded second in next week’s conference tournament. Carleton hosts third-seeded and defending MIAC Playoff champion Concordia College-Moorhead in the semifinals on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at Bell Field. Game time is tentatively slated for 2 p.m. Knights Online will offer a live video broadcast of the event.