KANSAS CITY, MO. – On its first full day in Kansas City, the Williams College women's soccer team got down to business, checking out the championship field at Swope Village, getting a practice in – of course eating at Chipotle – and ending the night with the NCAA's Final Four Banquet, a tour of the facilities, and a session of singing and snacks.
Along the way, Zoe Trutner was nearly carried away in a Porta Potty, Tressa Palcheck outlasted Dani Sim in a showdown of balance and skill, Coach Michelyne Pinard dodged traffic while carrying a box of Chipotle takeout nearly the size of her own person, Hana Tomozawa delivered one heck of a speech, and everyone was allowed to sit in $4,000 chairs.
Just another day in a series of memorable days for the Ephs, who will take on Johns Hopkins in a Div. III national semifinal today at 8:30 p.m. EST.
The Ephs received their first look of the grass field they'll be playing on tonight against the Blue Jays with a short walkabout and a quick team picture. Then it was off to Practice Field No. 6. They practiced for about an hour on the turf field, and the practiced ended with Palcheck and Sim in a duel to see who could balance a soccer ball on their head for the longest period of time. Palcheck, one of the Ephs back-up keepers, emerged the victor for her squad.
After that the Eph had a quick scout in what will be their locker room Friday night, one of five trailers in the parking lot adjacent to the championship playing field. Once the scout ended, Pinard nearly lost one of her players when Trutner went off to use one of the Porta Potties, and a few minutes later, the facilities crew at Swope Village came by to move them -- and began to with Trutner still inside. Thankfully, one member of the crew heard her scream and she was returned safely to earth – and the team.
A stop at Chipotle on the way back proved entertaining if not somewhat dangerous as coach Pinard emerged with the third and final box of takeout for the team, but had to dodge cars and pedestrians to make it back to the bus safely. Being the All-American she was, of course she did.
The Banquet was held at the Shield Club at Sporting Park, home of the MLS' team the Sporting Kansas City. The year before they were known as the Kansas City Wizards, and in 2005, Williams graduate Khari Stephenson played in six matches for the Wizards.
The highlight of the banquet, as always, was the eight speeches delivered by one member of each team, men's and women's, that reached the final four. Senior captain Hana Tomozawa, who suffered what most would consider a season-ending injury in early October but who instead put off surgery, rehabbed, and then played four minutes in the Ephs' 4-1 second round win over Ithaca, was the Ephs' representative.
After that the team received a tour of the soccer club's facilities, complete with a boot room for all the cleats, and a locker room in which each player has a $4,000 chair to relax in before, at halftime, and after each match.
The team was allowed to walk outside to the field and sit at field level while their school logo and team photo were displayed on the two large scoreboards. Then it was back to the hotel for some singing and snacking and a little rest before Friday's game day.