WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Senior back and captain Lilly Wellenbach (West Bath, ME) has been named the National Defensive Player of the Year by D3Soccer.com and to the All-American First Team.
Junior midfielder Mai Matsuyama (Natick, MA) earned recognition as a Third Team All-American. This fall Matsuyama received an impressive eight post-season honors on the field and in the classroom.
Wellenbach and Mitsuyama were key figures in leading Williams to a 21-2-1 record and a second place finish at the NCAA Division III championship – highest finish in school history and set a school record for most wins in a season.
In her first appearance as a D3soccer.com All-American, Wellenbach earned the D3soccer.com Defender of the Year award. With Wellenbach anchoring the backfield, Williams limited opponents to 3.2 shots-on-goal per game. The Williams defense logged 17 shutouts, fifth most nationally, and allowed just 10 goals in 24 matches, which translated to a 0.40 goals-against-average, tenth best nationally.
"It is so wonderful to see Lilly recognized by those outside our program this year as being as impactful as we've always known her to be," said Eph head coach Michelyne Pinard. "In addition to being one of the best pure athletes we've ever had, she has been an invaluable tactician for our team, with her ability to be a coach on the field and problem solve in the moment."
|Mai Mitsuyama '16|
Wellenbach and her teammates on the Eph backline did not allow a goal in 200 minutes of play in the NCAA Division III semifinals and the championship match against high scoring Johns Hopkins University and Lynchburg College.
After conceding the first goal and trailing on just three occasions during the regular season, the national runner-up never trailed in six NCAA tournament games, posting four shutouts before coming up short in penalty kicks in a scoreless title game.
Wellenbach was a National Soccer Coaches Association of American All-American honoree and also recognized as a member of the NCAA All-Tournament Team. "Lilly's ability to break down other teams' best attackers and attacking schemes and communicate so effectively with all of her coaches and teammates was spectacular to see and played out in such positive ways for our team this year. She will be greatly missed both on and off the field."
Numbers do not tell the story on how important and effective Mai Mitsuyama is for the Ephs. Mitsuyama recorded six assists on the year, but it was her overall play of linking the Eph backline with the midfielders and attacking players that drew constant praise from opponents.
"Mai had an incredible year and really made that flank space her own," noted Pinard. "She creates so much out there for us and she also is a calming presence both offensively and defensively. Her love for playing, competing, and her teammates was more palpable this year than in the past and I'm excited about her ability to continue to impact the game from that flank role as she becomes a senior."