WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Last year Williams College led the NCAA Division III Learfield Sports Directors' Cup Race from start to finish, but this year was different as the Ephs only led at the end of the year.
MIT had a 6.5-point lead over the Ephs at the end of the fall and at winter's end Williams trailed archrival Amherst 26.50 points: Amherst 664.0, Williams 637.50.
Sitting in third place, 21.50 points behind second place Johns Hopkins University (659.00), the Ephs needed a strong spring campaign to retain the Cup. The Ephs rattled off NCAA Championships in women's golf and women's tennis and then the women's crew team capped off the spring season with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Division III Rowing Championships for Women at the end of May.
The Ephs scored in six spring sports and tallied 415.5 points to vault from third place to first place in the Cup standings. The Ephs' final point total was 1,053.00, edging the second place Blue Jays of Johns Hopkins University (1,016.75) by 36.25 points.
The 1,053.00 points scored by the Ephs was their lowest total since 2012 when they scored 965.00 points and finished third.
Points are awarded in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup based on team finishes at NCAA Championships. Each school can score in a maximum of nine men's and nine women's sports.
Williams has won an impressive 18 Directors' Cups in the 20-year history of the competition in NCAA Division III, which is the NCAA's largest division with 438 member institutions.
The Ephs' 36.25-point margin of victory over Johns Hopkins University is the second smallest margin of victory in Cup history.
The closest Directors' Cup competition occurred in 1995-96 under a different scoring structure that also involved fewer sports. The Ephs won the 1995-96 Cup competition by just 15 points. Williams tallied 604 points to the 589 scored by The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).
"Wow, this year was a close competition in Division III," commented Eph Acting Athletic Director Bud Fisher. "We're pleased to once again be the Cup recipients as it serves as a fitting tribute to our student-athletes' efforts and our coaches' dedication to the education of students at Williams."
The NCAA title in women's golf was a first for Williams and the first one won by a school north of Fayetteville, N.C., the site of Methodist University.
|The Ephs won their 1st NCAA title by 18 strokes|
Eight times the Eph women golfers have qualified for the NCAA tournament in the program's 11-year history and they have finished fifth or higher four times. A year ago the Ephs finished third.
After the first day of the four-day NCAA Tournament played at the El Campèon Golf Course in Howey-in-the Hills, Fla., the Ephs were five shots behind leader Redlands University.
With 36 holes completed the Ephs were three shots behind first place Washington University (MO).
And then the Ephs started their run. Not at the beginning of the third round, but at the turn going from the front nine to the back nine.
With 27 holes left to play in the 2015 NCAA Championship the Ephs had fallen six shots behind Washington University (MO). However, when the back nine of the third round was complete the Ephs were in first place and in possession of a six-shot lead. For the first time the Ephs would hold the lead going into the tournament's final round.
Though the Eph lead would shrink to just three shots early in the fourth and final round, the Ephs again caught fire. Williams added 15 shots to their lead, and rolled to the title posting a winning margin of 18 shots.
Sophomore Sophie Kitchen and freshman Phoebe Mattana earned Honorable Mention All-America honors with top 10 finishes at the tourney. Senior captain Shelby Shote had previously been named an Honorable Mention All-American prior to the tournament.
Women's tennis headed to Mason, Ohio for the NCAA Quarterfinals owning an unblemished record, 22-0, for the year and having defeated six of the other quarterfinalists a total of eight times.
A 5-0 win over DePauw set the Ephs up with a semifinal showdown with Amherst, the last team to defeat the Ephs. The Ephs won 5-1 to notch their fourth win of the season over the Lord Jeffs.
In the title match the Ephs squared off against Emory, the defending champions, meaning that for the 14th time in the last 15 years the NCAA Division III champion would be either Williams or Emory.
A 2-1 lead coming out of doubles left the Ephs needing to win just three singles matches to claim their seventh title in the last eight years, all under head coach Alison Swain '01.
|Ephs celebrate their 9th overall NCAA title|
The three singles wins all came from the top of the ladder as freshman Juli Raventos won at number one, senior captain Rebecca Curran was victorious at number three, and sophomore Linda Shin provided the clincher at number two.
With the team championship match tied at four Linda Shin was tied in her match. Shin had lost the first set, but won the second set. The third set would settle this match and the national championship. Shin won the third set 6-3 to give the Ephs the title.
Williams leads all of Division III women's tennis with nine overall titles and 72 matches won in NCAA Tournament play.
The women's tennis team finished the year at 25-0, marking the first time in program history the Ephs have finished a two-semester season without a loss. The Ephs' now sport a 26-match overall win streak.
Williams has now won 32 NCAA titles overall in 10 different sports.
Three days after the team tournament concluded Juli Raventos and Linda Shin claimed the NCAA Doubles title and they earned All-America honors in both singles and doubles play.
There were other standout spring efforts in NCAA championships to fuel the surge to retain the Cup.
Men's track and field, the lone men's team to score for the Ephs in the spring season, watched junior Bijan Mazaheri finish second in the 10K and 8th in the 5K, while senior Aldis Inde was second in the 5K setting the school record -14:15.17. Junior Colin Cotton, who missed the entire indoor season with an injury after finishing second at the 2014 cross country championships, placed 7th in the 5K. All three Ephs earned All-America honors. Eph men's track and field finished 12th in a field of 73 scoring teams.
Sophomore Hannah Cole who has now competed in six consecutive NCAA championship events (cross country (2), Nordic skiing (2), and outdoor track & field (2), placed second in the 3,000m steeplechase in 10:32.03, leaving her within two seconds of the school record. Freshman Anna Harleen took 5th in the 1,500m with a time of 4:29.27 and is less than one second from setting the school record. Both Ephs earned All-America recognition with their top eight finishes.
Cole and Harleen powered the Ephs to a 21st place finish in a field of 74 scoring teams,
Softball finished 32-9, losing in the NCAA Regional final to WPI, behind the stellar play of senior captain and Second Team All-American centerfielder Mo Frank. Frank also was accorded Academic All-America laurels. Senior captain and pitcher Emma Harrington became the all-time leader in wins at Williams (52) and was named the Valedictorian of the Class of 2015.
During the 2014-15 academic year the Ephs scored in nine women's sports (maximum allowed) and six men's sports. Ten of the 15 Eph teams finished in the top ten nationally.
While it is easy to note that the spring surge lifted the Ephs to the 2015 Cup, one must not overlook superior achievements in the fall and winter. Women's soccer advanced to the national semifinals and to the championship game and came in second. Williams did not allow a goal in regulation and in the overtimes in their last two NCAA Tournament games, falling only in a shootout in the championship tilt.
Women's volleyball (5th), men's cross country (6th) and women's cross country (8th) also notched top 10 national finishes.
|Sarah Thompson '15 - 2015 NCAA Swimmer of the Meet|
Men’s and women’s swimming and diving both finished third, the men’s highest finish since 1983. The Eph men’s 400 Medley Relay with Ben Lin, Jake Tamposi, Thad Ricotta and Alex Nanda set an NCAA record with a time of 3:13.84.
Senior Sarah Thompson won the 500 freestyle (4:45.13), the 1,650 freestyle (16:21.44), and was a member of the winning 800 Free Relay (7:18.25) on her way to being named the NCAA Swimmer of the Meet.
Wrestling equaled the program’s best finish by coming in 10th and for the third straight year fielded two All-Americans: Jorge Lopez (157), Chris Chorzepa (184).
Skiing was 13th despite competing primarily against Division I scholarship-supported teams, featuring international athletes.
The only other Division III schools to win the Directors' Cup are UC-San Diego (1998) and NESCAC foe Middlebury (2012). The Ephs finished fourth in 1998 and third in 2012.
The UC-San Diego Tritons have since moved on to Division II.
The Ephs won 13 Directors' Cup in a row from 1999-2012.
In 2009-10 the Ephs set a record for most points scored in the NCAA Division III competition with 1,292.25, while also setting a record margin of victory -- 386.5 points -- over second place Amherst.
This year the NESCAC placed four teams in the top 10 in the final 2015 Directors' Cup standings with Williams (1), Amherst (5), Middlebury (7), and Tufts (9).
The 2015 Directors' Cup, sponsored by Learfield Sports and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), will be presented at NACDA's annual convention in Orlando on Tuesday, June 16.
NCAA Division III
1 -- Williams -- 1,053.00
2 -- Johns Hopkins -- 1,016.75
3 -- MIT -- 961.00
4 -- Washington University (MO) -- 944.00
5 --Amherst -- 918.50
6 -- Wisconsin-Whitewater -- 877.75
7 -- Middlebury -- 821.50
8 -- Emory -- 807.50
9 -- Tufts -- 766.25
10 -- Wisconsin-La Crosse -- 731.00