Women's Soccer Headed To Williams For NESCAC Championship Weekend - Listen Live!

November 5, 2008

Defending NESCAC champion Williams College will look to claim its second-straight conference crown and third in program history this weekend as the Ephs host the final rounds of the 2008 NESCAC Women's Soccer Championship at Cole Field in Williamstown, Mass. Top-seeded Williams will clash with fifth-seeded Bowdoin in the first semifinal on Saturday, Nov. 8 at 11:00 a.m. before third-seeded Middlebury squares off with second-seeded Amherst at 1:30 p.m. The 2008 NESCAC Women's Soccer Championship wraps up on Sunday, Nov. 9, with the final taking place at 12:00 p.m.

Williams (14-0-1, 8-0-1 NESCAC) enters the semifinals for the second year in a row with both the top seed and an undefeated record, the lone blemish a 1-1 draw at Amherst on Oct. 25. The Ephs rolled past Colby during the quarterfinals on Sunday afternoon 4-0, the third consecutive tournament contest in which they have scored four times. Defense has once again proven to be the strongest asset for Williams, allowing a league-low six goals - two coming in the last eight games - along with a conference-best 10 shutouts. Leading the defense for the Ephs is a pair of All-NESCAC First Team selections from a year ago, the senior tandem of goalkeeper Lauren Sinnenberg (Westfield, N.J.) and defender Caitlin Colesanti (Wyckoff, N.J.). Sinnenberg (11-0-1) owns a 0.33 goals against average and a .879 save percentage, second among NESCAC keepers. Colesanti captains a Williams defense that has permitted only nine shots on goal this fall (0.60 per game) and allowed on average 7.07 shots per game. While the strength of the defense has been impressive, the offense has also performed admirably. Senior forward Gabrielle Woodson (Plano, Texas), the 2007 NESCAC Player of the Year, is tied for the conference lead in goals with 10. Woodson also leads the NESCAC in scoring with 25 points (10-5-25).

Before Williams can think about becoming the first team to repeat in championship history, it must face fifth-seeded Bowdoin (7-4-4, 4-3-2 NESCAC) in a rematch of last year's final. The Polar Bears reached the title game in 2007 for the first time in seven previous attempts but fell to the Ephs by a 4-0 score. In the only meeting so far this fall, Williams posted a 4-0 shutout against Bowdoin on Sept. 20 in Williamstown, Mass., and the Ephs hold the advantage in the all-time playoff series 3-0-1, advancing on penalty kicks in 2002. The Polar Bears had a rocky finish to the season by going 3-3-0 in their last six matches, outscoring opponents 9-1 in the three wins but being outscored 7-1 in the three losses. During the season finale against Tufts on Oct. 31, Bowdoin jumped out to a 1-0 halftime lead only to come up on the short end of a 2-1 decision. The loss put the Polar Bears on the road in the quarterfinals against the Jumbos for the second time in three days, however this time the two clubs played to a scoreless tie before Bowdoin advanced on penalty kicks, 4-2. Statistically this season, Bowdoin ranks fifth among conference teams in scoring at 1.60 goals per game and is third in goals against average at 1.01. First year forward Ellery Gould (East Sandwich, Mass.) paces the Polar Bear attack with a team-high 17 points (8th NESCAC) on eight goals - including a league-high four game-winners - and one assist. In net, senior Kelly Thomas (West Hartford, Conn.) holds a 6-3-3 record while ranking fifth in the conference in goals against at 0.85 and second in save percentage at .879.

Arguably the hottest team in the conference next to Williams is second-seeded Amherst (10-1-3, 7-0-2 NESCAC). Since falling in the season opener at the College of New Jersey on Sept. 6, 5-1, the Jeffs have gone 10-0-3 and allowed more than one goal on just two occasions. Amherst reached this weekend's semifinals for only the second time in the last five years thanks to a 1-0 victory over Wesleyan in the quarterfinals. With an offense that leads the league in scoring, averaging nearly three goals per game, the Jeffs hope to secure their third NESCAC title after claiming the conference championship in 2001 and 2003. Junior midfielder Meg Murphy (Springfield, Mass.) has been at the forefront of a potent Amherst offense that features 15 different goal-scorers this season. The 2006 NESCAC Rookie of the Year is tied with Williams' Woodson with a NESCAC-best 10 goals and is second among conference players in points with 24. Following Murphy on the Amherst stat sheet is sophomore forward Kyla Woodhouse (Topsham, Maine), as she has collected seven goals and five assists for 19 points. First year goalkeeper Allie Horwitz (Woodbridge, Conn.) has emerged as one of the top netminders in the conference. In 11 appearances this season, Horwitz is 6-0-2 with a league-leading 0.29 goals against average and .929 save percentage.

Amherst will face a team that has become its championship nemesis in recent years, third-seeded Middlebury (8-5-2, 6-3-0 NESCAC). The Panthers have eliminated the Jeffs from the tournament in each of the last two tournaments, upending Amherst 1-0 in overtime for the 2006 NESCAC title and posting a 1-0 win in the first round at Amherst last fall. Since suffering a 4-1 setback to the Jeffs in the conference opener for both teams on Sept. 13, the Panthers have posted an impressive 8-2-1 record. All three of Middlebury's losses in conference play, however, came at the hands of the other semifinalists, the aforementioned loss to Amherst and 1-0 losses at Bowdoin (Oct. 4) and at Williams (Oct. 31). Although Middlebury ranks seventh among conference teams in offense, averaging 1.27 goals per match, the Panthers' have excelled at keeping their opponents off the scoreboard, as their 0.71 goals against average is second only to Williams. Sophomore goalkeeper Lauryn Torch (Bronxville, N.Y.) is tied with Williams' Sinnenberg and Bowdoin's Thomas for the conference lead in shutouts with seven. At 8-4-2 on the year, Torch ranks third in the NESCAC in goals against average (0.65) and fourth in save percentage (.839). Up front, senior Caitlin Parker (Seattle, Wash.) and sophomore Annie Rowell (Craftsbury, Vt.) have combined to tally eight of the Panthers' 19 goals this season, each with four apiece.

Semifinals - Saturday, November 8 at Williams
No. 5 Bowdoin at No. 1 Williams - 11:00 a.m.
No. 3 Middlebury vs. No. 2 Amherst - 1:30 p.m.

Championship - Sunday, November 9 at Williams
Semifinal winners - 12:00 p.m.

--courtesy NESCAC--