GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Christopher Newport and the national semifinals will come soon enough.
Thursday, the Williams College soccer team practiced for Friday's big game, but before that, spent some time at Hunter Elementary School with its first and second graders, took a walk for a smoothie, attended a banquet where senior Natalie Turner-Wyatt represented the team as its voice, and concluded the night with some snacks and song in the Heritage Room of the Sheraton.
The day began with a trip to the elementary school, with Kristina Alvarado, Aspen Pierson and Georgia Lord demonstrating some soccer ball tricks for the students, and Alison Lu pulling off a card trick you had to see for yourself to believe. The team than ran the youngsters through several "drills" some involving soccer and some not, both in the gymnasium and outside in the school's parking lot.
As the Ephs departed, one youngster said, "Do you guys have to go? When will you be back?"
The event was part of the NCAA's Community Engagement Program at the NCAA Div. III soccer Final Four. All eight teams, four women's and four women's, took part in that today.
A short bus ride to the UNC Greensboro campus later, the Ephs took a nice walk to stretch their collective legs, but more important;y, to snag some smoothies from the Tropical Smoothie Cafe. Yes, it's right on the Spartans campus. And, yes, it's as good as it sounds.
A walk back to the UNC-Greensboro soccer field led to a walk-on period where the Ephs were reacquainted with the game field where less than 12 months ago they won the national championship with a 1-0 victory over the University of Chicago. Photos were taken, NCAA swag was handed out, and then the Ephs went to work in preparation for their national semifinal contest versus the Captains at 7:45 p.m. Friday.
The NCAA's big event prior to the games is its night before banquet. An official team photo was taken, complete with the Ephs coaching staff (Head coach Michelyne Pinard, Recruiting Coordinator Sarah Raymond, and assistants Tressa Palcheck '17 and Sarah Brink '15) along with athletic trainer Jillanna Simon. Then it was off to eat, and the Ephs were joined by a local Special Olympian named Patrice. Turner-Wyatt was the final speaker for the women's side, and the event concluded with an announcement of the newly minted All-Americans in attendance, which included the aforementioned Sarah Kelly.
After a brief stop at the NCAA Mixer -- new to the program this year -- the Ephs gathered as a team for a few tactical notes from Pinard, and then snacks and song to conclude a full day.