GENEVA — The William Smith Herons have secured a playoff spot.
Not that it comes as a surprise, but Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Union cemented their postseason spot.
Following a 1-0 win against RPI on Friday, it was an immediate turnaround for the Herons (11-1-1, 7-0-0) as they hosted Union (7-6, 2-4) for their second game in 24 hours. Despite the small window for recovery time and game-planning, William Smith dominated Union and earned its 11th victory in its final home game of the regular season.
William Smith began the game as if they had a week’s worth of rest and were all over Union’s back line. Within one minute of the opening kick, William Smith earned its first of nine corner kicks in the game.
Eight minutes later, junior forward Sheila McQuillen laced a beautiful through ball that sprung fellow classmate Julia Keogh loose and created a one-on-one with Union goalkeeper Alison Sorkenn. Keogh confidently placed the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal to score the first goal of the game and a well-deserved first goal of the season.
“It was kind of my standard run, in behind the defenders and then as soon I saw it was me and the keeper I knew it was fine because we do so much finishing in practice. I just had to be composed,” Keogh said.
For a player as fast and composed as Keogh is, it was equally surprising that it was her first goal of the season, something Keogh states wasn’t weighing on her much.
“Throughout the season it has become something I don’t think about as much or worry about because we have such a deep bench,” Keogh said. “We have so many people that can put the ball in the net and it’s more of how much fight we put in.”
Following the first goal, William Smith continued to press Union’s back line. Sheila McQuillen tormented Union’s left side defense the entire 90 minutes as she made run after run that always ended with a cross across the goal that would come within feet or even inches of crossing the goal line.
William Smith dominated possession throughout the game, but couldn’t manage to put more than one goal in the back of the net, something that seemed to frustrate head coach Aliceann Wilber.
“What do you think?” Wilber asked with a chuckle as the question was asked. “It’s very frustrating. For our athletes too, it is frustrating. We do all that work and teams are starting to bunker in and load the box but we had chances to put it away.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge that both Julia Keogh and coach Wilber recognized was the quick turnaround between Friday evening’s game against RPI and Saturday afternoon’s game against Union.
With such little time to recover and game-plan, William Smith had to be on the ball — no pun intended — in order to pull off two victories in two days.
“Definitely fitness plays a big part, but we do put a lot of work into recovery and I say adrenaline does play a huge role as well,” Keogh said with a laugh after the win.
Fitness is only part of the challenge to a back-to-back. Game-panning proves to be equally difficult to do in a small window, according to coach Wilber.
“We like to take games game-by-game but when you have them like that, there’s no time in between,” Wilber said. “So we’re shifting perspective from one team and restart for Union. That is out of the norm for the players that we are addressing two teams simultaneously.”
Luckily for the Herons, they will get a week’s worth of rest before traveling to Annandale-on-Hudson to play Bard next Saturday.
Winning both games helps, too.