If the Williams College women's soccer team is going to return to the NCAA Division III Final Four, the Ephs are going to have to travel a longer road to get there.
That's because Williams will be one of three teams hitting the road this weekend to play in the Sweet 16 and possibly the Elite Eight. Williams, Brandeis and Stevens Institute of Technology will all gather in Geneva, N.Y., where William Smith will host the round of 16.
The tournament begins Saturday at 11 a.m., when William Smith (18-1-1) will host Brandeis (15-2-4). The second game features Williams (18-1-1) and Stevens (18-3-1), and is scheduled to begin at 1:30.
The winners advance to the Geneva Regional final on Sunday at 1 p.m. The winner of the Geneva Regional will advance to the NCAA Division III Final Four, Dec. 4-5 at the Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Mo. Swope is the home pitch of the Kansas City franchise in the Women's Professional League.
Williams reached the Final Four last year by holding serve at home, going 4-0 in the NCAAs. Williams lost the national championship to Lynchburg. The match was scoreless, but the Ephs lost on penalty kicks.
Williams advanced to the Sweet 16 this year by beating The College of New Jersey 3-0 on Sunday at Cole Field. The game turned out to be the final one for the Ephs on their home pitch this year. Williams was undefeated at home this year.
The Ducks from Stevens won the Empire 8 Conference championship and advanced to Geneva by beating Bowdoin 4-1 on Sunday. Bowdoin was an at-large team out of NESCAC.
Brandeis earned an at-large bid from the University Athletic Association, and the Judges kept a possible Little Three match up in the Elite Eight from happening when they eliminated Amherst on Sunday. The Lord Jeffs were the home team for the first two rounds, and battled Brandeis to a 1-1 draw. Brandeis advanced 3-2 on penalty kicks.
The Judges will play the Herons of William Smith, the only one of the four teams here who have ever won an NCAA Division III championship. William Smith was the champion in 1988 and again in 2013. The Herons, Liberty League champions, haven't had a losing season since 1983. They advanced to the Elite Eight by beating Roger Williams 5-1 on Sunday.
The coaches at Williams and William Smith, Michelyne Pinard and Denise Dallamora, are familiar with each other. The Ephs have lost to William Smith the last three times they have played. Williams lost to William Smith 4-0 in the Geneva Regional final in 2011 and lost 1-0 in the 2010 regional final. That year, William Smith beat Williams 3-1 in a regular-season game.