Williams College women's soccer team tops Hardin-Simmons to advance to NCAA Division III championship game
Alison Lu's goal in the 85th minute broke a scoreless tie and goalkeeper Olivia Barnhill notched her fifth consecutive shutout as the Ephs beat Hardin-Simmons 1-0 in an NCAA Division III semifinal Friday afternoon.
Williams (21-1-1), winners of the national championship in 2015, also made it to the national championship game in 2014.
Hardin-Simmons (23-1-0), not only lost its first game of the season, but saw its 45-game unbeaten streak come to an end. That streak dated back to the opening game of the 2016 season
"To push through today and have one more game tomorrow is a great, incredible feeling," Eph junior Sarah Hollinger said in the post-game press conference. "I know we're all excited about what's to come."
With the win, the Ephs will play the University of Chicago for the D-III title. The championship game will be today at 2:30 p.m. The University of Chicago reached the title game by beating The College of New Jersey, 1-0.
"We're just thrilled to be playing one more game together," Williams coach Michelyne Pinard said. "This team is a joy to coach and I can't wait to see them play against a team like [Chicago], who has a ton of attacking presence. It's going to be an 18-to-18 type of game and we're ready and excited. I can't wait to see this team play one more time."
Chicago is seeking its first NCAA women's soccer title.
Statistically, the Ephs controlled play from the outset on Friday. Williams had 17 shots at the Cowgirls' net to only four shots at the Eph net.
Williams had its first scoring chance in the eighth minute, when Hardin-Simmons goalkeeper Caitlin Christiansen made a save on a shot by Natalie Turner-Wyatt. The half closed with two big chances, Erica Jung missed the crossbar at 44:16, and then forced Christiansen to make a save in the last second of the half.
The Cowgirls scored 110 goals this year, and 43 of them came off of corner kicks. Hardin-Simmons had Williams on its heels to open the second half, with three corner kicks in the first 10 minutes.
On the first corner, Kirsten Parrish's header was cleared out by the Williams defense. Barnhill kept the second corner from dropping into the box, and Kami Jones' shot on the third corner was blocked in front.
From that point, it was all Williams.
Coach Michelyne Pinard made wholesale substitutions in the 63rd minute, and the energy provided by the second unit started wearing down the Hardin-Simmons defense.
Freshman Georgia Lord had a pair of shots from beyond 25 yards that Christiansen had to punch over the crossbar. Finally, with 5:31 left on the clock, the Ephs struck.
Hardin-Simmons' All-America defender Kirsten Parrish had a shot by Lu deflect off her foot back to the Eph sophomore. And Lu made no mistake for her 12th goal of the season.
"I took a first shot, it got blocked and then it came right back," Lu said. "I just figured I'd shoot it again. I pretty much willed that ball in, I would say."
In recording her fifth shutout, Barnhill has not given up a goal in 481 minutes and 44 seconds.
Danielle Sim, named a first-team All-America with forward Natasha Albaneze, anchored a defense that allowed only two shots on Barnhill. Kenne Kessler, Hardin-Simmons midfielder who led the nation with 37 goals, did not record a shot on net.
In the opener, the Maroons got the match's only goal just 5:23 into the first half. It was on Chicago's second shot of the day.
Hanna Watkins got her eighth goal of the year.
Madori Spiker turned a TCNJ defender over, crossed to the left of the box and Watkins sent the ball to the far post for the goal.
Backup goalkeeper Miranda Malone had a huge game for Chicago. She replaced starter Katie Donovan in the 21st minute, and shut out the Lions the rest of the way. She made two saves.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.