As the calendar turns from April to May, many Division III college athletes have begun to put away their gear. But for some, the regular-season road takes a turn onto the highway toward an NCAA championship.
Several Williams College teams and individuals begin competing this weekend for NESCAC championships, and the invitation to compete in NCAA Division III tournaments and possibly bring home a national championship.
It starts with the men’s lacrosse team of coach George McCormack.
The Ephs finished the regular season 5-5 in conference play and 7-8 overall, good for sixth in the conference standings. Since the top eight teams make the tournament, Williams was assured a berth. The Ephs will, however, be on the road throughout the postseason if they hope to make it to the NCAA Tournament.
Williams, losers in four of their last five games, will travel to Amherst on Saturday for a rematch with the No. 3 seed Mammoths. Two weeks ago, Amherst defended Pratt Field with a 14-10 win over its Little Three rivals.
The top seed in the men’s lacrosse tournament is Tufts, followed by Bowdoin, Amherst, Wesleyan, Middlebury, Williams, Hamilton and Connecticut College. Trinity, Bates and Colby did not qualify.
The quarterfinal round is played at the home of the top four seeds. The semifinals and final will be held May 7-8, at the home of the highest remaining seed. Even if all four top seeds lose, fifth-seeded Middlebury would then host the semifinals and the finals.
Tufts has won 10 NESCAC men’s lacrosse titles, while Middlebury has won seven. The Ephs, who reached the championship game in 2019 and 2021, haven’t won a title since 2008.
The NCAA Division III lacrosse tournament will feature 38 teams, 27 automatic qualifiers, one Pool B and 10 Pool C (at-large) teams. The bracket will be released Sunday night, May 8.
Both Williams golf teams are bound for new-look NESCAC Tournaments, and the Williams women are looking for a sixth title.
In the past, the NESCAC Fall Qualifier tournament identified the top four teams that would then play for the championship in the spring. This year, NESCAC is kind of going back to the future by having all 11 schools compete in two-day tournaments to determine the champion. The Qualifier system was in use from 2007-20.
The Eph women are hoping to get back to the NCAA Tournament, which they won in 2015 and finished second in 2018 and 2019.
The Williams men have won 12 golf titles, the last one coming in 2017.
The women will play at the Amherst Golf Club, while the men travel to the Yahnundasis Golf Course in New Hartford, N.Y.
The Williams track and field teams will head to Hamilton College for the NESCAC outdoor championships. Both Williams teams have dominated NESCAC competition, with the men having won 23 titles and the women having won 25. In fact, since 2001 the Williams women have lost only one title. That was to Tufts in 2013.