Monday November 5, 2012

WILLIAMSTOWN -- Penalty kicks might just be the worst way to decide a
championship.

Just don’t ask Williams College women’s soccer coach Michelyne Pinard or her players to give this one back.

Williams scored on its first three PKs while Eph goalie Laura Wann stopped the first two Bowdoin shots and the Polar Bears’ Toni DaCampo fired her shot wide to give the Ephs the 2012 NESCAC championship. The game had been tied 1-1 after regulation and two overtimes.

That makes it three straight wins after the Ephs lost at home to Middlebury in the regular-season finale.

"We were humbled last Wednesday, but I think it made us better," said Pinard. "I think we’re going to be a better team as a result of playing all the great teams in NESCAC."

The Ephs, who came into the NESCAC Tournament with the second seed and a No. 22 national Division III ranking, now await who they will play in the NCAA Division III Tournament. As NESCAC champions, the Ephs have earned the automatic bid to the tourney.

The win gives Williams five NESCAC titles in the last six years. The Ephs had a four-year streak stopped last year by Amherst.

Williams and Bowdoin traded first-half goals on Sunday. The final 45 minutes and two 10-minute overtime periods decided nothing, so the game would be decided by penalty kicks.

Williams won the toss and decided to kick first. Lilly Wellenbach took the first shot for Williams and buried it in the lower left corner that Bowdoin keeper Bridget McCarthy couldn’t get to.

Becky Stoneman took Bowdoin’s first shot. She went to her left but Wann made the save. That gave her and the Ephs a jolt of confidence.

"We got lucky that they had PKs [Saturday]. That gave us a definite advantage in terms of knowing where they would go," Wann said. "I knew which side she was going to. I dove for that side, started moving a little early and got my body behind [the ball]."

Caitlyn Clark made it 2-0 for Williams on a shot into the upper right corner. Bowdoin’s Casey Blossom shot to the right, but Wann dove and made the save.

Williams freshman midfielder Crystal Lewin was up next and while McCarthy guessed right, the ball beat the Bowdoin keeper.

"I just get in a zone and [think] we’re going to win," said Lewin. "It’s my decision right now whether or not we’re going to win this game. We knew she was a really good keeper. Our strategy is to put it in the side of the net."

Chloe Kuh’s penalty shot at 17:45 put the Ephs up 1-0. Williams was awarded the kick when Bowdoin’s Sarah Wallace was called for a handball in the box. Three minutes later, Bowdoin’s Jamie Hofstetter pounced on a ball that Williams didn’t clear and beat Hannah Van Wetter to tie the score.

To reach Howard Herman:
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On Twitter: @howardherman