Williams soccer teams start NCAA tournament push


WILLIAMSTOWN -- The first season didn't end well for either Williams College soccer team. Today gives both the men and women a chance at redemption.

The Ephs lost in the NESCAC soccer championship games, but still earned bids to the NCAA Division III tournaments. The women will host Lesley today at 11 a.m., while the men will play Elms College at 1:30. Both games will be on their home turf at Cole Field.

"We look at it as a second season," said Williams men's goalie Peter Morrell. "The NESCAC tournament [title] was a goal of ours. In the back of everyone's minds, since the beginning of the season, it's [about] getting ready for the second season."

The soccerfest starts at 11 a.m. when the Williams women (12-3-2) host NECC champion Lesley University (18-1-1). The men (11-6-0) will host Elms (11-8-0) at 1:30.

The winners of those games will play Sunday. The other side of the women's bracket features Keene State and Haverford, playing today at 1:30. The men's bracket has Western New England and MIT going at 11.

The Lesley Lynx won their league title by beating Elms 1-0, their 11th consecutive win. Lesley's only loss was a 5-0 decision against Middlebury, a team that Williams lost a pair of 1-0 decisions to. The second loss came in the NESCAC final.

"I know that they're 18-1-1 and they score a lot of goals," Williams coach Michelyne Pinard said. "Other than that, it's hard to know with teams you don't see very often."

The Lynx have scored 69 goals and have given up only 11. Midfielder Hannah Landerholm has scored 11 goals, while the entire Williams team has scored 29.

The Ephs will be led by three All-NESCAC picks. Sophomore midfielder Mai Mitsuyama was named to the first team, while senior captains Carla Nicasio and Hayley Cook -- both defenders -- were named to the second team.

"Our execution matters way more than anyone we play," said Pinard. "We are looking to execute in all the important moments -- which is really all over the field -- but in front of our goal and in front of theirs."

The Blazers had the No. 1 seed and routed Newbury 5-0 in the NECC title game.

Elms may be in Chicopee, but this is the first time the school has played the Williams men on the pitch.

Four Blazers were named first-team All-NECC: forwards Adam O'Grady and Ziggy Jonathan, midfielder Safa Saady and defender Connor O'Grady.

Williams enters today's game having won three of its last four games, but dropped a 1-0 decision to Amherst in the title game.

It happened to Williams a year ago, and the Ephs marched all the way to the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas.

"It is similar. We have a few more losses than we had last year, which is not great but we're in," said Williams men's coach Mike Russo. "We're very excited about it. We're excited about the draw. Elms will be a very good team."

The Ephs will be led by three All-NESCAC picks. Junior midfielder Matt Muralles, who leads Williams with 6 goals and 14 points, was named to the first team. Morrell and sophomore forward Mohammed Rashid were named to the second team. Rashid was the conference rookie of the year a season ago.


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