KANSAS CITY, MO. >> The Williams women's soccer team returned to the Division III national championship game one year after falling short in the same contest.
This time around, the Ephs got a different ending.
Williams defeated Washington University in St. Louis, 1-0, to capture the team's first women's soccer national title. This comes one season after Lynchburg clinched the championship in penalties against the Ephs, 4-3, following a scoreless game.
"Winning a National Championship is really hard," Williams head coach Michelyne Pinard said in a postgame press conference. "But our program has only gotten better year-by-year. We've been working hard at this for a long time, and we finally got it. It's a good day."
It's the 34th overall NCAA title in 11 different sports for Williams and the fourth in the calendar year of 2015. The championship is also the first for the NESCAC in women's soccer.
Kristina Alvarado scored for the Ephs (21-1-2) in the 42nd minute off an assist from Crystal Lewin. Goalie Tressa Palcheck registered a shutout for Williams, recording one save, while Lizzy Crist contributed seven saves for Washington University (20-3-1).
The goal was off a long run from Lewin, resulting in the eighth goal of the season for Alvarado as she beat Crist to the far corner.
"In the past, I have been very anxious getting onto the ball, but this one in particular, I was very confident," said Alvarado during a press conference following the game. "I had this feeling that 'I can do this,' and all the hard work in the build-up to that moment led me to put it in the net. It was just an incredible feeling."
It was almost an early lead for the Bears, who had more shots than the Ephs, 16 to 15, as a header hit the crossbar and was cleared off the line by Hanna Kaeser. Another shot in the first five minutes hit the crossbar as well, almost giving the Bears the lead again. Washington University had the first four shots of the contest and outshot Williams, 9-5, in the first half.
The Ephs almost doubled their lead in the 68th minute as Lewin almost put one in, but it hit off the crossbar and bounced away. Williams held on to the one-goal lead over the final 22 minutes.
Williams' journey to the national championship began with victories over Westfield State and TCNJ in the first two rounds of the NCAA Division III tournament. The Ephs followed with a win over Stevens before advancing past Williams Smith in penalties to make the final four.
On Friday, Williams registered a 2-1 victory over Centre before Saturday's national championship triumph in the first meeting between Washington University and Williams.