Williams men's soccer in NCAA D-III round of 16 Saturday
The road to the NCAA Division III men's soccer Final Four runs through Amherst this weekend. Williams is looking to take that road all the way to Texas.
Williams is one of four teams that will gather on Amherst College's Hitchcock Field to play Sweet 16 and Elite Eight soccer contests. The winner of the regional will advance to the Division III Final Four next week in San Antonio, Texas.
The Ephs, who are making their 17th appearance in the tournament, will open the regional with a 11 a.m. matchup today with Brandeis. Host Amherst, the NESCAC Tournament champion, will face Swarthmore in the 1:30 second game.
The winners will play Sunday at 1:30.
Williams' opponent comes out of the University Athletic Association and finished in a four-way tie with Carnegie Mellon, Emory and Washington (Mo.) for the regular-season championship. Since the UAA does not have a postseason tournament, the Judges were awarded an at-large bid.
Brandeis (18-2-1) is led by UAA most valuable player Sam Ocel. Ocel scored two goals in a first-round win over Baruch College, and scored on a header with 29.4 seconds left in overtime against Vassar to give Brandeis a 1-0 win.
Williams (15-1-3) is seeking its first Division III national title since 1995. The Ephs advanced with a pair of 2-1 wins over Thomas College and St. Lawrence.
Williams is led by senior All-NESCAC first-team picks Matt Ratajczak in the back and midfielder Peter Christman. Conference rookie of the year Mohammed Rashid finished fourth in NESCAC with six goals and six assists.
Goalie Than Finan of Williamstown is a second-team All-NESCAC selection, and his goals-against average of 0.55 is among the top 15 in the nation.
Williams' loss to Amherst (16-0-2) was the Ephs' only blemish on an otherwise undefeated record.
The Lord Jeffs have what might be the best defense in the regional. Goalkeeper Thomas Bull leads the nation in save percentage (.939) and goals-against average (0.11). The Lord Jeffs have seven players who have registered at least 10 points. Senior Spencer Noon led the conference with 13 goals and 31 total points.
Swarthmore (16-2-2) lost in the Centennial Conference championship game to Haverford and needed an at-large berth. After getting it, the Garnet beat Albertus Magnus and RPI by identical 3-0 scores.
Noah Sterngold and Jack Momeyer are keys up front for the Garnet.