Williams College women's soccer team claims second straight NCAA Division III championship


GREENSBORO, N.C. — For the third time in the NCAA Division III women's soccer tournament, the fate of Williams College rested on the shoulders of goalkeeper Olivia Barnhill. For the third time, Barnhill delivered.

Barnhill's save on a penalty kick by Clare Robinson gave the Ephs their second consecutive national championship and third in four years. The game went to penalties after 110 minutes of 1-1 soccer.

Both teams missed their first penalties. Victoria Laino and Aspen Pierson made their kicks while Middlebury's Cate Shellenbach tied the PK round at 2-2.

The aptly-named Rain Condie stepped up, facing goalkeeper Eva Shaw, and the first-year player put the ball to the left post. Shaw was late on her dive and the ball found the back of the net.

Robinson was Middlebury's last chance. She shot to the left, Barnhill got her hands on the ball, which deflected off the left post and out of danger. That gave Williams the national championship.

It was the third time in the last five years and the fourth time overall that the championship was decided by penalty kicks. Williams was on the short end of penalty kicks in 2014, after battling Lynchburg to a scoreless tie. The Ephs fell 4-3 on penalties.

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In 2016, Washington-St. Louis and Messiah played to a 1-1 draw, with Messiah winning 5-4 on PKs.

Williams' Sarah Scire, who scored both goals in Friday's 2-0 semifinal victory over Christopher Newport, and defender Sarah Kelly were co-most valuable players of the tournament. Kelly was named a third-team All-American last week. Pittsfield's Ilana Albert, who assisted on Scire's game-winning goal on Friday and assisted on Aspen Pierson's goal Saturday, along with Pierson were named to the All-Tournament team.

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Pierson's goal at the 28 minute mark stood until an own goal in the 78th minute knotted the game, sending it into overtime.

It was the rubber match between these two NESCAC rivals. Williams beat Middlebury 1-0 in the regular season, but the Panthers knocked off the Ephs 1-0 in the NESCAC Tournament championship game.

It was also the sixth time the Ephs had gone into overtime this year. Williams had won one OT game, did not lose any and had two draws in the regular season.

Williams played two NCAA tournament games to draws, 0-0 against The College of New Jersey and 1-1 against William Smith. The Ephs advanced on penalty kicks in both games.

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The Ephs struck first when Albert sent the ball from the left, crossing the ball into the middle of the box. Pierson was in the middle of the box, and her shot to the left side eluded Middlebury goalkeeper Ursula Alwang.

Williams led 1-0 at intermission.

The Ephs were 13 minutes from winning when a ball deflected off an Eph defender and past goalkeeper Olivia Barnhill to tie the match at 1.

After regulation, the teams play two, 10-minute overtimes. Williams almost ended the game in the first OT.

Albert had set up Scire in front of the Middlebury net. Scire got by one defender, but Alwang came out to deflect the potential game-winner out of harm's way.


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