NORTON, MA- Sophomore Emily Vincunas' (Granville, MA/Wilbraham & Monson Academy) first marker of the season, with 10:01 remaining, snapped a tie and lifted the second-seeded Wheaton College women's soccer team past number-seven Babson College, 2-1 during a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament quarterfinal contest on Saturday in Mirrione Stadium. Wheaton improved to 17-2-2, while the Beavers fell to 11-8-1.
The Lyons, who are ranked 25th nationally by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and sit fourth in New England, handed Babson, which is sixth in the regional poll, its sixth one-goal loss of the fall. Wheaton advances to the league tournament semifinals for the 15th straight season, as it will oppose third-seeded Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) next Saturday at Wellesley College at a time to be determined.
Vincunas netted her winner at 78:59 after the ball took an odd bounce in the box over a Babson defender and the keeper following a failed Beaver clear, and Vincunas headed the ball into an open net from five yards away. Sophomore Jessica Stuart (Weymouth, MA/Weymouth) also scored for the hosts, staking Wheaton to an advantage with six seconds left in the opening half, while classmate Lindsay Leddy (Warwick, RI/Wheeler School) made four saves, all in the second half.
Freshman Amy Festa (Medfield, MA/Medfield) provided the tying marker for the Beavers, and junior Sarah Macary (Woodbury, CT/The Gunnery) made two saves in net.
The Lyons held a 6-1 advantage in shots during the opening stanza, nearly grabbing the lead at 11:30, but junior Emily Hough (Norwich, VT/Hanover) drove a shot off the crossbar after picking off a pass at midfield and carrying just inside the box.
Hough was instrumental in Wheaton's first tally. With fewer than 10 seconds left in the first half, she faked out a defender by switching the ball to her left foot and sending a cross from near the right corner toward the front of the goal, where senior Rosie Levy (Torrance, CA/Chadwick School) headed a ball to the right post, and Stuart knocked home her shot at 44:54.
The Beavers increased offensive pressure in the final period, edging the Lyons in shots, 8-7 while taking three of the half's four corner kicks. Leddy kept her team in front during the 74th minute, denying consecutive headers by freshman Nichole Vargas (Warren, RI/Saint Mary Academy-Bay View) off a corner-kick sequence.
After just missing the upper left-hand corner of the goal during the 46th minute, Festa knotted the contest at 74:59, drilling a free kick from 20 yards away off the crossbar and into the left side of the net. Following Wheaton's go-ahead goal, Macary stopped a point-blank try in the 82nd-minute, and Festa's last-chance shot from 25 yards out with 14 seconds to go was wide.