|This Olivia Barnhill save sends Ephs to the Final Four|
GENEVA, N.Y. -- Senior goalkeeper Olivia Barnhill stopped four of five penalty kicks Sunday to push the Williams College women's soccer team past William Smith and back in the NCAA Div. III Final Four.
Williams (17-1-4) will face Christopher Newport in the national semifinal contest Friday, November 30 at 7:45 p.m. on the campus on the University of North Carolina Greensboro. The defending national champion Ephs advanced to their third Final Four in four years and their fourth in five years.
Eph head coach Michelyne Pinard talked about the significance of this year's team making it to the Final Four.
"Honestly, I don't really have words right now. This team just gutted it out. But they didn't just gut out this weekend, they've gutted the whole season out. It feels like a challenge each week with regard to injuries specifically. But this team, instead of falling apart, have come together," she said.
Against William-Smith the Ephs fell behind early, surrendering a goal off a free kick in the 5th minute.
But 20 seconds later, after a long skipping pass from Sarah Kelly '20, the Ephs looked poised to equilize. Aspen Pierson '21 received the pass, made headway along left flank, and then snapped a pass to Georgia Lord '21 at the top of the 18. After Lord rolled the ball past several defenders, Liz Girvan '22 came and punched the ball into the goal, netting the equalizer and her first collegiate goal.
Williams kept the advantage for the rest of the first half, earning two shots on goal in the 31st minute that could have given the Ephs a 2-1 lead. In the second half, William-Smith won the majority of possesion, with forwards Julia Keogh and Megan Barwick putting dangerous pressure on the Eph's backline.
Head coach Pinard talked about how the backline handled the pressure.
"Our backs were just incredible. They're doing everything we've asked them to do. [Assistant coach] Sarah Raymond has done an incredible job organizing them and helping them believe in themselves and how they can, as a three, keep some of the best forwards in the country at bay," she said.
The game went to overtime. Again, the Ephs had to play defense and look for a breakaway. In the 108th minute, after a William-Smith defender slipped on the snow, Sarah Hollinger '19 got the breakaway and was one-on-one with William-Smith goalkeeper Veronica Romines. Hollinger took the shot at edge of penalty area, but Romines made a fantastic save, sending the game to PK's.
William-Smith's Jocelyn Mitiguy sent the ball on net. Senior Barnhill dove and deflected the ball and then was mobbed by her teammates, ending a spectacular performance in which she stopped four of five penalty kicks.
Barnhill noted the team's resiliance.
"I think a lot things were going against us, and I think it's a credit to the team how resiliant we are. No matter what happens we're still going to fight," she said.