Williams women's soccer team defeats Johns Hopkins to advance to D-III Final Four
WILLIAMSTOWN — For the third time in the last four years, the Williams College women's soccer team is going to the NCAA Division III Final Four.
Natasha Albaneze scored twice, while Natalie Turner-Wyatt had a goal and assists on both of Albaneze's goals as the Ephs beat Johns Hopkins 3-0 in Sunday's NCAA Elite Eight game.
"Today was for everyone on our team who hasn't" been to a Final Four, Williams tri-captain Jacqueline Simeone said, "and hasn't gone through that. We're just looking around and we're so happy for them to be able to experience it because we know it's unlike anything else. It's such an honor to be one of four teams left playing in a season.
"I think everyone knows our cow suit tradition. We were looking around after the game, saying 'It's time to buy your cow suit.'"
The Eph women historically dress up in cow suits for the trip to the Final Four.
That trip will be taken after the Thanksgiving holiday. Williams (20-1-1) will head to Greensboro, N.C., to play Hardin Simmons in a Final Four game on Friday, Dec. 1. In the other half of the doubleheader, The College of New Jersey will play the University of Chicago.
"This team has just been firing on all cylinders," Albaneze said during a post-match news conference. "We've been moving dynamically and attacking well. It's been a team effort, and we're peaking at the right time."
Williams goalkeeper Olivia Barnhill had eight saves, six in the second half, as the Blue Jays (18-3-3) pushed forward in the final 20 minutes as they tried to break the shutout bid.
Williams took a 1-0 lead into the second half. Eight minutes in, Albaneze scored the first of her two goals. Four minutes after the first one, she took a pass from Turner-Wyatt and broke down the right side. Just outside the box on the right side, the senior forward from Northport on Long Island, ripped a shot that went top shelf into the far left corner.
"There's something about that spot," said Albaneze, who scored from a similar location last week against Brandeis. Only that was, in her words, a cross that found its way into the net.
So with the score 3-0, it was all but over. Not quite, because the Blue Jays didn't get this far by waiving a white flag. Hopkins put the flag away and started attacking over and over.
"It was the strangest 3-0 game I've ever been a part of," Williams coach Michelyne Pinard said. "It felt more like 3-3 than 3-0, and that's how we were playing. We were hanging on."
The Blue Jays missed a penalty kick in the 72nd minute. Bailey Monaco was taken down in the box. Michelle Santangelo took the PK, and she hooked it wide of the left post.
The best combination of saves came five minutes later. Barnhill stopped a shot by Alexandra Damron. The rebound came out to Maggie Coulson, whose shot was deflected by Barnhill off the right post and out of danger.
"After each goal, we say we want to play like it's a 0-0 game. We want to play like we have tons of time and we want to play like we're under pressure, like everything matters," said the junior keeper from Manhattan. "Keeping focused and keeping ready is not too hard when you have an entire team keeping ready, and behind you."
With the shutout, Barnhill has kept a clean sheet for 395 minutes and 34 seconds.
"What I'm most excited about is that this team has another level," said Pinard. "This team has played great, but I think we have another level in us.
"I can't wait to get to North Carolina and show that."
Johns Hopkins 0 0 — 0
Williams 1 2 3
W — Natalie Turner-Wyatt (Jacqueline Simeone), 16:29.
W — Natasha Albaneze (Natalie Turner-Wyatt), 53:49. W — Albaneze (Turner-Wyatt), 57:59.
Saves — JH: Bess Kitzmiller 6. W: Olivia Barnhill 8.
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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