WILLIAMSTOWN -- In a year where the Williams College women’s lacrosse team has been a road team even when it’s been home, the Ephs weren’t going to lose in their final game on campus.
The Ephs shut out visiting Wheaton (14-7) in the first half of their NCAA Division III second-round tournament game Saturday afternoon, and then hung on for dear life in the second half as the Ephs eliminated the Lyons 9-6 on Cole Field.
Alyssa Amos had a hat trick for Williams, Natalie Gill had two goals while Eph goalie Ali Pilch made nine saves -- six in the second half.
"We were just excited to still be playing," said Williams goaltender Ali Pilch. "It’s May 10th today, and it’s already 2 1/2 weeks longer than I’ve ever played in my [college] career. I think in general we’re really excited to be here.
"Whether it’s Cole or somewhere else, we’ll be excited to travel somewhere else next week."
With the win, Williams (14-4) advances to the regional semifinals against NESCAC rival Colby. The regional will be played at top-ranked SUNY-Cortland, which advanced with a 20-5 win over Mount Union.
For Williams, the win ends an abbreviated four-game home schedule. The Ephs had played home games in Florida, at Smith College and at UMass. The Ephs were forced to play home games on the road due to the inclement weather in April and the fact that the Weston Field complex is undergoing a major renovation, so going to upstate New York will be just another trip for this group.
The game was close because after giving up six goals in the first half, the Wheaton defense kept most of Williams’ top scorers in check.
Rebecca McGovern, who entered the game with 35 goals and 13 assists, was held to one assist while 28-goal scorer Bridget Malicki was held to one goal.
Williams led 6-0 at the break and made it 7-0 on an Amos goal with 25:58 left. It took Williams nearly 10 minutes to score again, and that was on a man-up situation as Wheaton’s Madison Cohen received a yellow card.
"Our defense in both halves wasn’t largely different, I think our offense was," said Wheaton coach Emily Kiablick. "I think our defense played great in the first half, but they had to play great for a lot of the time because the ball was always down there.
"I think the biggest thing we could have done for our defense was to take care of the ball on attack, and put the ball in the back of the net."
The Lyons made it 8-4 on a free-position shot by Jenna Tewksbury with 6:51 left. Williams answered 1:21 later on a Jenna Chodus goal. Wheaton did manage two goals in the final 2:09, but got no closer than three goals down.
Tewksbury and Mills each scored twice for the Lyons.
"It’s exciting for the seniors" to win the finale on Cole, said Eph head coach Chris Mason. "We’ve had a challenging year and for them to be able to make the NESCAC Tournament, finish top four in NESCAC and then get into the NCAAs is really what they were shooting for.
"Now that we’ve made the NCAAs, we’ll play it one game at a time and see how far we go."
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