The women’s soccer advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament after two impressive victories this past weekend. On Sunday, the Judges defeated the No. 5 Lions of The College of New Jersey on the road during a tense 1-1 (4-2) penalty kick shootout. The team had the opportunity to play against the Lions of TCNJ after earning a beautiful 3-0 victory against Virginia Wesleyan College on Saturday. 

Judges 1 (4-2), TCNJ 1

The squad was up against a brutal test against the fifth-best team in the nation, the TCNJ Lions. The home team opposition had only lost one game the entire season, a record that was altered after Sunday’s matchup. 

Brandeis gave up an early goal in the first half to fall behind by a goal. TCNJ junior midfielder Elizabeth Thoresen was able to slot one past Judges goalkeeper Alexis Grossman ’17 after a great pass from senior forward Christine Levering. Neither team was able to put together many more solid opportunities to put points on the board during the half. 

The Judges found themselves in an unfamiliar position in what has been an overall strong season, being down a goal. With many key seniors on the team facing the prospects of their collegiate careers coming to a close, the Judges were forced to hunker down and save their incredible season. As the closing buzzer loomed, forward Samantha Schwartz ’18 put the team on her back.

With a loose ball forcing both teams to scramble, Schwartz calmly beat her defender and collected the ball. The junior booted the ball from 15 yards out of the top of the box and tied up the game with four minutes remaining in regulation. The clutch score led to a tied up game, which prompted an exciting overtime period. 

The Judges and Lions remained scoreless during both overtime possessions and would engage in a penalty kick shootout to decide the outcome. During penalty kicks, the squad  edged out TCNJ 4-2, punctured by a final score from forward Cidney Moscovitch ’17. The senior’s shot continued the Judges’ season as they move on to the third round of the NCAA tournament, which will take place next weekend.

Judges 3, Virginia Wesleyan 0

In the Judges’ rout of Virginia Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon in Trenton, New Jersey, defender Hannah Maatallah ’19 stood out as the team’s star of the day. Maatallah recorded a brace, an impressive feat of scoring two goals in one game. Most notable was that Maatallah was able to do so in three minutes, scoring both goals in that short time span. 

Maatallah’s first score came in the 56th minute of the contest, when she hit on an attempt from outside the 18-yard box. The incredible deep shot was her fourth overall score on the season. She added another one when during a chaotic sequence in front of the net that ended with Maatallah slotting the ball in the back of the net. Moscovitch was credited with the assist on the play.

The team’s third goal on the day would come late in the 70th minute of action. Schwartz, much like she did during Sunday’s game, showcased her ability to be a difference maker with her explosive offensive attack. Midfielder Haliana Burhans ’18 blasted off a shot that was saved by the Virginia Wesleyan keeper, but unfortunately for  the opposition, Schwartz was standing there to take the rebound and convert it for another goal. 

The defense held up the score the rest of the way, with Grossman only forced to record four saves during the victory. For Grossman, the win represented her 20th collegiate career shutout and her 12th of the 2016 season. 

The Judges will now move on to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year. They will be attempting to improve upon last year’s result in which they fell in the round and were eliminated from the tournament. 

The Judges fell in crushing fashion last year, losing in a 1-0 overtime game to a tough Hobart and William Smith Colleges team. 

William Smith was one of the top-ranked teams in the nation, with an outstanding regular-season record of 19-1-1. 

The Judges had a scoring drought going into the game, scoring only two goals in their two playoff matchups. The Judges will look to reverse that trend this time around, with forward Lea McDaniel ’17 at the helm of the team’s offense.

With four goals in two playoff games this year, the Judges are on the right path.