Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – The Elms College women's soccer team fell to host Williams College, 3-0, in a first round matchup of the 2016 NCAA Women's Soccer Division III National Championship at Cole Field Saturday afternoon.
The Blazers wrap the most successful season in program history with an 18-4-1 record and the program's second appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Williams improves to 16-0-2 on the year and will face the winner of Arcadia and Wentworth in the second round.
The Blazers defense was excellent in the first half, withstanding multiple runs at goal by Williams. Elms had a couple chances midway through the first half on balls played in to junior Mackenzie LaRochelle (Chicopee, Mass.) and senior Meeghan O'Connor (Fall River, Mass.), but slide tackles from Ephs defenders thwarted the opportunities. Elms freshman goalkeeper Rebecca Molin (West Hartford, Conn.) made a trio of clutch saves including a pair on point-blank shots late in the opening frame to preserve a scoreless tie at the break.
In the 62nd minute of play, a scrum ensued for a loose ball in the Blazers box, which Williams senior Audrey Thomas (Bellevue, Wash) touched back to junior Evan Gancedo (Pasadena, Calif.), who fired a shot inside the far post to stake the Ephs to a 1-0 lead. With 17:10 on the clock, Williams sophomore Kristin Alvaredo (Murietta, Calif.) found a loose ball behind the Blazers defensive line and placed a shot into the upper corner, to push the Ephs to a 2-0 advantage. In the 75th minute, Molin denied a close attempt in the box, but Ephs freshman Alison Lu (Palo Alto, Calif.) tucked the rebound past the reach of Molin, giving Williams a 3-0 lead.
The Ephs controlled the shot column, 26-1, during the contest. Molin made five saves for the Blazers, while Williams sophomore goalkeeper Olivia Barnill (New York, N.Y.) stopped two shots in the win.
"I'm so proud of this team and every member of this coaching staff," said Elms Head Coach Sean Milbier. "We worked really hard this year and became a family very quickly. We firmly believed when we stepped on the field that we were going to win today, and we knew that Williams was a good side. It was a tall task to keep [Williams] off the scoreboard for 60-plus minutes, but we worked hard and backed each other up. When you get here your first time, it's always hard to win that first game. Some good advice I received from a coach up here is that now that you've been here, you know what it takes. Being here was a huge step for us getting to that next level."