KANSAS CITY, MO -- The Williams College women's soccer team will play for a national title for the first time in program history after a 1-0 victory over Johns Hopkins University Friday night at Swope Soccer Village.
The Ephs are the first New England team to advance to the championship match since Amherst lost to Ohio Wesleyan 1-0 in 2001. To date no New England team has won the NCAA Division III women's soccer title.
"We're completely ecstatic, there are no words to describe how I'm feeling because this team has been special from day one and I'm so happy for them," Ephs' head coach Michelyne Pinard said. "I can't believe we get to play tomorrow in the national championship."
Williams (21-1-1) will play Lynchburg (25-0-1) at 5:30 p.m. local time, 6:30 p.m. EST. Sophomore Audrey Thomas scored the game's lone goal -- her 17th of the season -- in the 10th minute.
The Ephs came out with a lot of energy to open the game and it ultimately led to the first goal. In the opening two minutes Mai Mitsuyama streaked down the left side and cut toward goal before lofting a beautiful cross that skipped past Evan Gancedo and Thomas in the box.
Two minutes later, Thomas used her speed to slip past a Hopkins defender appeared to pull her down in the box, but no penalty was called and it resulted in a corner kick opportunity for the Ephs, although nothing came of it.
Hopkins best early chance came about three minutes later on a free kick from 40 yards out, but Lilly Wellenbach positioned herself well and headed the ball out of harms way. The Ephs remained on the offensive as Kristi Kirshe found Thomas in the box again, but her toe poke was gobbled up quickly by Hopkins keeper Bennett.
Just a minute later, Crystal Lewin played a ball into the right of the box to Thomas, who received the ball deep, but her step back toward and one evasive move around a defender gave her enough room to beautifully strike a shot that went across the box and curled into the lower left panel for a 1-0 Williams lead.
Williams continued to control play and 15 minutes in Louisa Costa made a strong run down the right side that led to another corner for the Ephs.
From there the Blue Jays began to gain back control of the game and possessed the ball for much longer periods of time. In the 38th minute, Van Wetter got her hand a close range shot off the foot of Kronick and tapped the ball off the crossbar. Wellenbach and Maddie Swarr were ultimately able to clear the ball.