KANSAS CITY, MO. — Kristi Kirshe and Audrey Thomas became members of the Williams College women's soccer program at the same time, made an immediate impact and spent the next four years elevating the Ephs' to a national power.
The dynamic duo, tabbed "Thunder and Lightning" by some, helped the Ephs advance to two Div. III national championship games — winning the first-ever national title in school history as juniors — and shattered the school record book in the process. In total, their senior class won 74 games over four seasons.
Now, Kirshe (Franklin, MA) and Thomas (Seattle, WA) are linked once again, as they end their distinguished careers at Williams as NSCAA All-Americans.
"Audi and Kirsh had an immediate impact on our program," said Ephs' head coach Michelyne Pinard. "Their dynamic athletic ability and competitive nature allowed them to impact our goal scoring and competitive level from the moment they arrived. The combination of strengths that they possessed also complemented each other so perfectly. The quick dynamic, but steady intensity from Audi and the more powerful, strong and passionate Kirsh really played off of each other in a way that was simply terrific and fun to watch."
The National Soccer Coaches Association of America recently named Kirshe First Team All-America and Thomas Second Team for their efforts. This season, Kirshe was second on the Ephs in points with 26 and first in assists with 12. She scored seven goals, the seventh and final one breaking the all-time school record. She finished her career with a school record 114 points (43 goals, 28 assists in 86 games).
Thomas was fourth on the club this season with 19 points (7 goals, 5 assists) and finished her career with 100 points (42 goals, 16 assists). Thomas and Kirshe are the only two players in the history of the women's soccer program at Williams to reach or surpass the 100-point plateau.
"They evolved from being great athletes into much more sophisticated soccer players," Pinard noted. "As our team evolved, they had to evolve from simply a dynamic transition duo to players who could also help us keep the ball in the middle third and attack in different ways as other teams got to know them and how to effectively deal with them.
"They evolved in their senior year to be able to play with other players and not depend solely on each other for their statistical successes.They lead by example with their openness and willingness to play different roles as they did whatever they needed to do to help the team be successful. They have helped elevate our program to a consistent national contender since their arrival and my hope is that they've inspired a younger generation of Williams women's soccer players to take the lead from here on out."
This year's senior class, including Thomas and Kirshe, will leave Williams with a four-year mark of 74-8-7, a winning percentage of .871. Thomas (18) and Kirshe (17) combined for 35 game-winning goals in those 74 victories (47 percent).
Kirshe and Thomas were also named First Team All-New England Region by the NSCAA. Sophomore goalkeeper Olivia Barnhill joined the duo on the First Team, and junior Danielle Sim, a defender, and junior midfielder Evan Gancedo, were named Second Team All-New England.
Sim started all 21 games and chipped in one goal, while anchoring a defensive unit that has surrendered just 11 goals on the year and seven through the first 20 games. Barnhill was critical in the team's 0.52 goals against average, started all 21 games for the Ephs, tallying over 1,654 minutes and compiling a 0.60 GAA and an .836 save percentage. Gancedo was a key cog in the Ephs' midfield and tallied career highs in goals (4), assists (4) and points (12).