WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Williams College men's soccer will be making its first appearance in the NCAA DIII Tournament since 2013 when they take on Elizabethtown College in a First Round game on the campus of SUNY Cortland on Saturday night at 7:30 PM in Cortland, N.Y.
Preceding the Ephs and Elizabethtown host SUNY Cortland will play Newbury College at 5:00 PM. Saturday's winners will meet at 5:00 PM on Sunday to determine which team will advance from the SUNY Cortland pod.
"We are beyond ecstatic to have been awarded a berth in the 2018 NCAA Tournament," stated Eph head coach Erin Sullivan. "This has been one of our preeminent goals the past few seasons and it's extremely rewarding when your overall resume is recognized with an NCAA at-large bid. Our team plays one of the toughest schedules in the nation and our players attend one of the most demanding colleges in the world, so there is very little margin for error during the first two months of the season. This achievement is a testament to the leadership on our team and the foundation that has been built over the past few seasons."
"This is a super competitive pod," stated Sullivan. "Not only are there two conference champions in Elizabethtown and Newbury, but host SUNY Cortland is a two-loss, top-ten ranked team from one of the toughest leagues in the country. Elizabethtown has a tremendous history of success and a legendary coach in Skip Roderick. They are an excellent side and we have our work cut out for us. From our perspective though, it's a great change of scenery and we're looking forward to representing Williams, the NESCAC, and New England in the Crown City."
Overall Williams men's soccer is making its 19th NCAA Tournament appearance and the Ephs have compiled a record of 36-15-9 (.675), including one title, a second place finish, and four third place finishes. Erin Sullivan was in goal when the Williams team captured the 1995 NCAA title.
Williams is one of six NESCAC teams selected for the 2018 NCAA Tournament, a recognition that the NESCAC is the most competitive NCAA DIII conference in the nation. The Ephs are 10-5-3 and advanced to the NECAC Championship game as the sixth seed in NESCAC, where after 110 scoreless minutes in the NESCAC Tournament Williams fell in a penalty kick shootout 4-3 to Colby. In 290 minutes of NESCAC Tournament play Williams did not allow a goal.
In the final regular season contest at home Williams lost to NESCAC foe Middlebury 2-0, but the Ephs avenged that loss in the NESCAC Tournament first round downing Middlebury on the road 1-0. The lone goal of the game came off a loose ball in the box after a long direct kick and was scorched home by Williamstown native Eric Hirsch.
In the NESCAC semifinal contest against Hamilton Demian Gass converted off a pass from Chris Fleischer at 75:39 to open the game's scoring and less than six minutes later Hirsch put the cap on the Ephs' 2-0 win.
The Ephs enter the NCAA Tournament having closed out the year going 6-2-2 in their last 10 games.
Williams averages 1.39 goals a game, while allowing but 0.63. Thirteen different Ephs have scored a goal this season and senior defender/midefielder Greg Andreou and junior midfielder Chris Fleischer are tied for the team lead with four each. Fleischer leads in points with 12 having registered four assists.
Senior goalie Aaron Schein has started 17 of the 18 games and sports a goals against average of 0.67 and a save percentage of .789. Schein has notched eight shutouts this fall.
The Elizabethtown College Blue Jays, the champions of the Landmark Conference, own a record of 10-4-4. The Blue Jays average 1.79 goals a game and have allowed 1.17 a game.
Senior forward Gilbert Waso leads Elizabethtown in goals (7), assists (10) and points (24). Senior goalie Brian Gately has started 17 games and sports a goals against average of 0.89 and his save percentage is .766.
Elizabethtown is making their 26th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and the Blue Jays won the 1989 title and they finished third in 1976. Overall the Blue Jays have played in 50 NCAA Tournament games and own a record of 25-24-1 (.531).
"What has been most impressive is the unconditional commitment, compete level, and unselfishness of this squad," added Sullivan. "Every player, every day, and every moment together matters to us and our players and coaches have fully embraced the privilege of representing our incredible institution together."