NCAA Tournaments: Williams women's tennis set to defend national title
WILLIAMSTOWN — The reigning NCAA Division III women's tennis champions will open defense of that title this week in Williamstown.
Williams, 5-0 winners over Middlebury in this past weekend's NESCAC championship, earned one of 39 automatic qualifying bids to the 49-team tournament. The single-elimination tournament begins with first, second and third-round play this weekend.
The Ephs, who have only lost one Division III championship since 2008, welcome five schools to the Purple Valley this weekend.
"It's always an honor to be selected to host the NCAA regionals," Williams head coach Alison Swain said. "We take a lot of pride in providing all of the teams that come to our regional a special experience."
Williams (18-3), the No. 2 team in the nation, and 16th-ranked MIT (12-7) earned first-round byes in the tournament. MIT won the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference championship, having won 10 straight matches last October.
Williams will play either Endicott (14-4) or Wilkes (14-1). Endicott is the Commonwealth Coast conference champion while Wilkes won the Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom Division title.
MIT will play either Skidmore (11-8) or Messiah (12-5). Skidmore is the Liberty League champion, while Messiah (12-5) claimed the MAC Commonwealth title.
Skidmore and Messiah will play Friday at 10:30 a.m., with Endicott and Wilkes to follow at 2.
MIT will play the Skidmore/Messiah winner on Saturday at 10:30, while Williams will play the Endicott/Wilkes winner at 2. The championship is set for Sunday at noon.
Williams is one of six NESCAC schools in the D-III tourney field. Bowdoin, Tufts, Middlebury, Amherst and Wesleyan are also in the field. Bowdoin and Tufts will travel to Brunswick, Maine this weekend, and the winner of that regional could face Williams in the semifinals, if they all advance.
INDIANAPOLIS >> The Williams women are one of four conference champions that will be competing in the NCAA Division III championships. The meet will be held May 27-28 at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center in Gold River, Calif.
The Ephs had won eight consecutive titles before losing to Trinity in 2014. Last year, Bates won the championship.
Williams is one of three NESCAC teams in the meet. The defending champion Bobcats earned a Pool B/C bid while Wesleyan is in as an at-large team.
Each team has two boats of eight rowers and a coxswain.
Williams did not get a spot in the NCAA Division III men's lacrosse tournament, but three schools with Berkshire County athletes did earn their way in.
Brett and Michael McCormack and Liam Chenail, all graduates of Mount Greylock, will be playing in the tournament, and they could all eventually play each other.
Chenail is a freshman attack at New England College, and his team reached by winning the North Atlantic Conference tournament title. Chenail scored 10 goals and had eight assists, including two goals in a 23-3 semifinal win over Lyndon State.
NEC will be playing at St. Lawrence in a first round game. Junior midfielder Brett McCormack has 10 goals and six assists for the Saints, who come into the game as the nation's eighth-ranked team.
The winner of that game will play the winner of the game between Middlebury and Springfield. Middlebury, losers to Tufts in the NESCAC championship, is ranked ninth in the country. Freshman midfielder Michael McCormack has a goal and three assists for the Panthers.
NESCAC champion Tufts, meanwhile, opens defense of its NCAA title with a home game against Emmanuel on Wednesday. The Jumbos (16-2) are two-time champions.
Pittsfield native A.J. Enchill, a senior midfielder at Tufts, was the NESCAC men's lacrosse player of the week. Enchill, a defensive midfielder, led the way as Tufts beat Williams 19-11 in the semifinals and downed Middlebury 20-14.