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WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – After dancing all over New England, eastern New York, and one trip to New Hampshire for practice and "home" games, Chris Mason's Williams College women's lacrosse team (13-4) has been rewarded with an invite to the "Big Dance" – the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
The Ephs will be making their sixth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where they have compiled an overall record of 7-5, finishing second in both 1998 and 2000.
Williams will face the Lyons of Wheaton College (14-6) Saturday at home at 12:00 PM. Wheaton downed Emmanuel 14-3 in an NCAA First Round contest played Wednesday night at Wheaton.
Leila Mills led the Lyons with four goals, while Allie Bush contributed three assists and goalie Katy Ananian recorded five saves. The Lyons will arrive at Cole field riding a 5-game win streak.
With the total re-configuration of the Ephs' home turf at the Weston Field Athletic Complex it was necessary for Mason's team to hit the road to find practice time and sites for home games. All of that travel has paid off with the Ephs' first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2010.
"This has been a year full of challenges, but this team has responded beautifully," said Eph head coach Chris Mason. "What we thought was going to be our biggest challenge - all the travel to practice sites - was not that much of a problem and I think it helped this team grow closer. They're like family."
"They would race to the bus to go to practice and then we had 30 to 60 minutes together getting to some of the locations and the rides home were always fun because the team was full of energy and having fun," said Mason. "They deserve a lot of credit for being flexible and getting all of their work done."
In the most recent Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association national poll the Ephs were one of nine NESCAC teams ranked in the top 20. Ranked 10th in the poll, Williams was the fourth highest NESCAC ranked team.
The 13 wins this season is the most for the Ephs since 2009 when they went 13-7. This year's 13 wins featured a 10-game in-season win streak and saw Williams advance to the NESCAC Tournament semifinals. All four losses this spring have come at the hands of NESCAC teams ranked ahead of the Ephs in the national poll.
The 2014 Ephs have defeated five nationally ranked teams and handed 3-time Liberty League champion RPI a 13-6 loss on RPI's home field, where the Ephs had previously practiced.
Asked what she feels is the strength of her team, Mason responded quickly noting "they never give up and they work really hard every day."
The Ephs have scored 170 goals this season, averaging10 per game and they have allowed just over 7 per game. Only three teams have scored in double digits vs. the Ephs in 2014.
Senior captain and goalie Ali Piltch has played all 1033:45 in net and has a goals against average of 7.37 and she owns a save percentage of .492 with her 123 saves.
The Eph offense features three players with at least 22 goals in junior Bridget Malicki, senior captain Rebecca McGovern, and junior Nancy Palmer. Malicki leads the team in points with 52 on 25 goals and 27 assists, while McGovern leads in goals scored with 35 and with 12 assists totals 47 points. Palmer has netted 22 goals and has registered two assists.