KANSAS CITY, MO. --Williams College senior back Lilly Wellenbach and sophomore forward Kristi Kirshe earned All-America honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) when the teams were released on Thursday evening.
Wellenbach was recognized on the first team, while Kirshe found her name on the second team.
"I think it's a great team honor for the Williams College women's soccer program to have two All-Americans," Pinard said. "It speaks volumes about all the hard work our whole team put in and those two represent our program as well as any one. We're certainly very proud of them."
It was the first time since 2008 that Ephs' head coach Michelyne Pinard has two All-Americans from the same team.
In addition, Wellenbach, Kirshe and junior midfielder/back Mai Mitsuyama were accorded First Team All-New England honors from the NSCAA. Sophomore Audrey Thomas was a Second Team All-New England selection.
"I think we feel like we have a whole team of all-region players," Pinard said. "That said, I'm just so proud we have so many people representing us."
Kirshe has broken the Ephs single-season scoring record with her 18 goals and also set a new school record for points in a season with 41 and has seven game-winning goals this season. Thomas is right behind, also breaking the previous Ephs' single-season goal mark
shared by Gabrielle Woodson '09 and Brett Eisenhart '11 of 15. Her 17th goal scored Friday night helped advance the Div. III national championship game against Lynchburg tonight at 5:30 p.m.
"I think Kirshe, her ability to turn on a dime and go at pace with power is undefendable," Pinard said. "The beauty of Kirshe is I actually think she does not have any idea how good she is. She is always wanting more from herself and her goal is to get better every session.
"As for Audrey, what stands out is what a competitor she is," Pinard said. "As the season has gone on, the bigger the game, the bigger the moment, the better she is. Her ability to finish at really opportune times is spectacular."
Wellenbach and Mitsuyama are equally important, but a tad harder to recognize without stats enhancers. Wellenbach has been a critical component of the Ephs back, as has Mitsuyama at times. Williams has 15 shutouts this season in 23 games, allowing only 10 goals, or .42 per contest. Wellenbach has anchored that backfield and provided a toughness to it.
"Lilly is one of the best -- if not the best -- defensive problem solvers I've ever coached," Pinard said. "Her ability to read the opposing attack, her ability to minimize other teams dangerous players and organize the people around her has really allowed us to free up our energy to attack."
In addition to her defensive role, Mitsuyama also plays a critical role in the Ephs' attack, as evidenced by her six assists this season.
"Mia is a spectacular soccer brain," Pinard said. "She sees the field as well as any player I've ever coached. She sees space, she sees attacking options and she sees defensive responsibilities. She is such a calming presence for us out on the field."