Williams women's soccer fueled by both veterans and rookies
Photo Gallery | Williams College Women's Soccer beats Bowdoin
WILLIAMSTOWN — On the road to an NCAA Division III women's soccer championship last year, veterans Kristi Kirshe and Audrey Thomas scored nearly half of the 50 goals the Ephs totaled.
Thirteen games into the 2016 season, Williams has scored 38 goals and nearly half of them have been scored by first-year players. Alison Lu has a NESCAC-leading 10 goals, while Sarah Scire is sixth in the conference with six goals scored.
Neither got on the score sheet Sunday afternoon as Williams (12-0-1, 7-0-1 in NESCAC) extended its winning streak to seven and its unbeaten streak to 22 games in a 2-0 win over Bowdoin (8-4-0, 4-3-0) at Cole Field. Veterans Thomas and Kristina Alvarado got the goals for Williams, ranked second in Division III nationally behind William Smith.
"It's awesome," Kirshe said. "A lot of years, it's been easy for teams to take away me and Audrey. We have so many scoring threats this year. We have so many people who are getting on the board. It makes us a more dynamic attack.
"We have two great lines of forwards, and that just makes it so much easier for us to keep going."
It was a scoreless Sunday for Scire, who had two goals in Saturday's 6-0 win over Wesleyan. Lu picked up an assist in Saturday's game, but sat out Sunday's contest with an injury. Williams coach Michelyne Pinard said she did not believe the injury to be serious.
Lu and Scire are two of eight first-year players on the Williams roster. Scire and back Sarah Kelly were the freshmen who played on Sunday.
"I think our depth is as good as it's ever been," Pinard said. "It's always a strength, but I think it's particularly strong this year.
"It's a fun little competition among the forwards, and it also takes pressure off. We're dangerous from lots of different spots."
She was dressed in sweats Sunday afternoon, but it didn't take long for Lu to make her presence felt with the Ephs.
"I came in not exactly knowing where I was going to play, because I kind of play all over the field," said Lu, who is listed as a back, midfielder and forward. "It's just been great. Everyone has been so amazing. The team makes the experience."
Lu, one of nine Californians on the Williams roster, scored two goals in Williams' season-opening 3-0 win at Hamilton. She is from Palo Alto.
"If there's a lot more pressure on me, it definitely opens it up for so many other people," said Lu.
Scire comes from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and after scoring one goal in nine games to start the year, she scored a hat trick in a 4-1 win over MIT, got two goals against Wesleyan and set up Thomas for what proved to be the game-winning goal against Bowdoin.
Scire said she's felt comfortable on the pitch since the start of the season.
"Pressure in this situation is a privilege," said Scire. "We've honestly come so far since the beginning of preseason, and we've worked on things that we've been challenged with.
"There is that pressure there, but it's something that makes us better in the end."
In the game, Williams had four early shots, two stopped by Bowdoin goalkeeper Rachel Stout, but she could not stop the fifth. Scire passed the ball ahead for Thomas, who got by Bowdoin's central defenders. Thomas chipped the ball past the goalie at 23:43 for the lead that the Ephs would not surrender.
Williams made it 2-0 in the 68th minute thanks to a strong move by Kirshe down the left wing. She crossed the ball into the box, where Alvarado scored.
"I feel really good about where we are," said Pinard. "One of the things that is challenging is that the last two weeks have been midterm time, and it's been quite a grind. We're fatigued to be honest, but I think everyone is.
"Our hope in the coming weeks is that we rejuvenate a little bit, start to play a little more crisply. I think this team knows there's another level, and I can't wait to see that."
With nine days remaining in the regular-season schedule, Williams is 7-0-1 in the league standings, while Amherst is 6-1-1, and Middlebury and Trinity are tied at 6-2-0. Everyone has two more games left, with Williams at Tufts on Saturday and at home against Middlebury Tuesday.
Pinard will be counting on Kirshe, Thomas and Alvarado, along with the first-years to help push the Ephs toward a regular-season title. That would give them home field in the postseason tournament.
"We want to host NESCACs on Cole. If we take care of our business in the next few games, we have a chance to play more games on Cole," said Kirshe. "We really can't ask for anything more than to play here."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.
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