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Women's Sectional Previews: Northeast

Other Sectional Previews:  MIDWEST | AMERICAN | EAST

By Hannah Lichtenstein


William Smith (Geneva, NY)

Sectional Webpage

Saturday/Sunday, Nov. 17-18

Third Round - Saturday

TCNJ (15-1-1) vs. Williams (17-1-2), 11:00 am ET

Amherst (15-2-2) at William Smith (16-3-0), 1:30 pm ET

Quarterfinals - Sunday

Sectional Final, 1:00 pm ET

How they reached the Sweet 16

   Berth 1st Round 2nd Round
Williams Pool C at-large W2-0 Univ. of New Eng. (H) W2-1 (2ot) Stevens (H)
TCNJ NJAC AQ W4-0 Western Conn. (H) W1-0 Farmindale St. (H)
William Smith Liberty AQ W4-1 Westfield State (H) W2-1 (2ot) Tufts (H)
Amherst Pool C at-large W3-0 Lesley (H) W1-0 MIT ((H)

2018 Statistical Overview

   Record (Pct.) GSA : GAA (Diff.) Avg. OWP SoS vs. Top 25 Last Ten
Williams 17-1-2 (.900) 1.66 : 0.49 (+1.17) .670 .650 2-1-2 8-1-1
TCNJ 15-1-1 (.912) 1.95 : 0.29 (+1.66) .650 .616 2-1-0 9-0-1
William Smith 16-3-0 (.842) 1.93 : 0.47 (+1.46) .653 .626 2-1-0 9-1-0
Amherst 15-2-2 (.842) 2.52 : 0.41 (+2.11) .657 .637 1-1-2 8-1-1

Williams Season Review

The defending champions surprise approximately no one with a 2018 return to the Sweet Sixteen. The Ephs lost the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship to the Middlebury Panthers but qualified for NCAAs via a Pool C at-large berth.

Despite this blemish, the hosts are in the midst of another fantastic year. They went unbeaten in their conference regular season, a league which is widely believed to be one of the most competitive in the country. This year, the Ephs are not flashy when it comes to the stat sheet and they have graduated many of those who led them to their 2015 and 2017 national championships. Regardless, it would be a stretch to call this campaign a “rebuilding” year for Michelyn Pinard and her team who are still, let us not forget, ranked No. 4 in the country.

First Team All-Conference sophomore Sydney Jones leads the team in goals with 10. Those making things tic around her this year have included freshman Liz Girvan who has 4 assists to her name and all-conference midfielder Sarah Scire.

The heartbeat of this Williams side it has to be said can be found in between the sticks. First-Team selection Olivia Barnhill, who has started in purple and yellow for the past three seasons, has allowed 9 goals on the year. She played a significant part in last year’s run to the final, being named the tournament’s Outstanding Defensive Player. She will be a key element again if the Ephs hope to go the distance in 2018.

TCNJ Season Review

The No. 6 ranked Lions are the automatic qualifier (AQ) from the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC). TNCJ is a seasoned veteran when it comes to the tournament and more than just showing up, they have a history of playing into December, appearing in the Final Four five times, finishing runners-up four times, and being crowned national champions three times.

Last year’s run was a memorable one for the Lions as they looked to put the cherry on top of their undefeated season in the form a national championship. However, Chicago handed them their first and final loss of the 2017 campaign in the Final Four. This 2018 squad, however, is its own force with which to be reckoned. Their offense is led by freshman forward Nikki Butler who has notched 7 goals in her rookie season and junior Taylor Nolan who has 6. More than potent, their attack is also a balanced one as 16 players have logged at least a goal or an assist for the Lions this year.

Diligent followers will know that the modus operandi of Joe Russo’s TCNJ is an organized, nearly impenetrable defense and this year’s team has proven to be no different. The Lions have allowed just 5 goals this year which puts their goals-against average at 6th in the nation. Their formidable backline is led by First Team All-Conference sophomore Faith Eichenour and Second Team selections Ally DeRiggi and Jen McGrogan who have helped to record 11 shutouts on the season.

William Smith Season Review

No. 11 William Smith is headed to the party which they have been on the guest list for 23 times now. When the Herons made their debut at the Big Dance, the Berlin Wall was still standing strong and they have been perennial contenders ever since. This year, in her 39th season as head coach, living legend Aliceann Wilbur guided the Herons to their 12th straight Liberty League championship and the NCAA tournament once more.

Picking up right where she left off last year, senior All-American Megan Barwick has come up huge for the Herons time and again with 9 goals and 6 assists this season. Also significant for the offense are forwards Sheila McQuillen and Julia Keogh. McQuillen, a sophomore, has 7 goals and 4 assists, her most important tally on the year coming in the narrow win over Tufts that got them to this round. Keogh, her classmate from Canada, has 6 goals and 5 assists, including the game-winner over RIT in the Liberty League championship game. Not bad, eh?

Much of the credit for the Heron’s 2018 success has to be bestowed on the defense. With just 6 goals against in 17 games, William Smith’s backline has the 7th best shutout percentage and 9th best goals against average in the country. That honor can be attributed to the steady play of All-Conference defenders Emilie Sauvayre and Maialen Martinez as well as senior goalkeeper Veronica Romines.

Amherst Season Review

No. 15 Amherst has bulldozed their way into the Sweet Sixteen for the second time in three seasons. Like their rival, Williams, the Mammoths gained entry into the tournament as an at-large bid from the NESCAC. Amherst has had one foot in and one foot out of the conversation surrounding the nation’s best for the past few years, but their impressive 2018 campaign is one which has shown that this a team that should certainly not be overlooked.

Don’t let the fact that they are the lowest ranked team in this sectional fool you, Amherst has weapons in their arsenal that can inflict all sorts of damage. Their havoc-wreaking attack has scored 49 goals this year, 12 more than their Saturday opponent William Smith and 15 more than both Williams and TCNJ. Responsible for 30% of that goal haul is one of the nation’s best forwards, NESCAC Player of the Year Rubii Tamen. The senior has 15 goals and an assist on the season and scored the goal against MIT last weekend that propelled the Mammoths to this round. Amherst also boasts the NESCAC Rookie of the Year in Alexa Juarez who ranked second in the conference with 6 assists as well as senior midfielder Caleigh Plaut who landed herself a spot on the NESCAC Second Team.

Amherst is just as good or better at keeping goals out of the net as they are at putting them in. Their .765 shutout percentage is tied for 7th best in the nation. That statistic can in part be attributed to the play of junior Bella Palma and sophomore

Head Coaches


Michelyne Pinard, 17th year (2002-2018), 234-45-31 (.805)
NCAA's (15 of 17 yrs.): 35-10-1 (.772) | 10th Sweet 16 | Champion ('15, '17), Runner-up ('14)


Joe Russo, 29th year (1990-2018), 497-63-41 (.861)
NCAA's (27 of 29 yrs.): 61-22-5 (.722) | 20th Sweet 16 | Champ. ('93,'94,00), 'Runner-Up ('96,'98,'05,'06), Final Four ('17), Elite 8 ('91,'92,'01,'14)

William Smith

Aliceann Wilber, 39th year (1980-2018), 552-133-57 (.782)
NCAA's (32 of 33 yrs.): 60-22-10 (.707) | 23rd Sweet 16 | Champ. ('88,'13), Runner-up ('87,'97), Final Four ('93,'95,'02,'08,'10,'11), Elite 8 ('89,'91,'94,'00,'01,'15,'16)


Jen Hughes, 15th year (2004-2018), 179-54-32 (.736)
NCAA's (10 of 16 yrs.): 16-6-3 (.700) | 4th Sweet 16 | Elite 8 ('06,'08,'11)

Seniors' 4-year Record (through Nov. 11)

   Overall (Pct.) NCAA Appearances Record Advancement
Williams 78-4-7 (.916) '15 '16 '17 '18 16-1-1 Sweet 16: '18; Elite 8: '16;
Champion: '15, '17
TCNJ 66-7-8 (.864) '15 '16 '17 '18 7-2-2 Sweet 16: '16, '18; Final Four: '17
William Smith 75-7-2 (.905) '15 '16 '17 '18 10-2-1 Sweet 16: '17, '18; Elite 8: '15, '16
Amherst 52-15-7 (.750) '15 '16   '18 5-1-1 Sweet 16: '16, '18

Players to Watch

Williams: #18 F Sydney Jones (So.) – 10g, 2a, 8GWG (NESCAC 1st Team) | #11 M Sarah Scire (Jr.) – 4g, 2a, 2GWG (NESCAC 2nd Team) | #4 D Liz Webber (Jr.) – 1g (NESCAC 2nd Team) | #1 GK Olivia Barnhill (Sr.) – 0.45 GAA, .875 SvPct (NESCAC 1st Team)

TCNJ: #23 F Taylor Nolan (Jr.) – 6g, 1a, 4GWG (NJAC 1st Team) | #32 F Nikki Butler (Fr.) – 7g, 2a, 3GWG (NJAC 2nd Team) | #12 D Faith Eichenour (So.) – 1a (NJAC 1st Team) | #13 D All DeRiggi (Jr.) (NJAC 2nd Team) | #15 D Jen McGrogan (Jr.) – 1g, 2a, 1GWG (NJAC 2nd Team)

William Smith: #3 M Megan Barwick (Sr.) – 9g, 6a, 4GWG (LL 1st Team) | #13 M Sarah Olick-Sutphen (Sr.) – 3g, 3a, 2GWG (LL 2nd Team) | #22 D Emilie Sauvayre (Jr.) – 3g, 1a, 3GWG (LL 1st Team) | #23 D Maialen Martinez (So.)– 1g, 1a (LL 2nd Team)

Amherst: #26 F Rubii Tamen (Sr.) – 15g, 1a, 7GWG (NESCAC POY) | #30 F Alexa Juarez (Fr.) – 7g, 7a, 1GWG (NESCAC ROY | #2 Caleigh Plaut (Sr.) – 5g, 2GWG (NESCAC 2nd Team) | #16 D Bella Palma (Jr.) – (NESCAC 2nd Team) | #00 GK Antonia Tammaro (So.) – 0.35 GAA, .909 SvPct (NESCAC 2nd Team)

Why they will advance to the Final Four

Williams: Saturday’s game is one you’d maybe expect a little later on in the tourney but, as participants and fans know all too well, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes in D3 women’s soccer. One goliath will have their season end at the Sweet Sixteen hurdle and Williams will ensure that they are not the fallen by leaning into the possession style type of play they have come to execute so well in recent years. The “experience” edge isn’t much of one against the likes of TCNJ, but it has to be said that field surface advantage could be just that for the Ephs, especially since Cozzen’s Field is a thicker grass surface with which TCNJ is less familiar. As for the potential Sunday opponent in Amherst...we’ll get to that.

TCNJ: On Saturday, the Lions will match up against Williams in a battle royale between two D3 powerhouses. In the back of Williams’ head going into this weekend will be how hard it can be to defend one’s title in an era where it seems every team is getting better each year. It’ll be as tight of a battle as you can imagine but TCNJ’s resilient defense has the experience and the talent to hold one of the nation’s best scoreless. The hard-nosed, win-every-ball Jersey soccer style will see one land in the back of the net in a narrow win. You’d have to expect the formula would be the same to win against William Smith or Amherst the following day.

William Smith: Many around Geneva, NY and beyond have high expectations for a storied program who has been in the tournament every year since its inception. William Smith exited at Sweet Sixteen stage last year after a shock loss to newcomers Ohio Northern so one can bet then that the Herons will have extra bite to their play in this year’s second weekend. That mentality along with the combination of their big-time players in various positions around the field and their prestigious coaching staff will combine to tip the scales in the Heron’s favor past two formidable opponents

Amherst: In a game between two teams with the same shutout percentage, goal scoring prowess is going to be the magic stuff that lifts the Mammoths past the Herons. That eye for goal is perhaps going to be even keener on Saturday as Amherst looks to exact revenge on the team that knocked them out of the Sweet Sixteen two season ago. If you’ve already peaked ahead to what might await Amherst next Sunday then you’re likely salivating -- forget that, you’re full on dehydrated from having lost all your mouth fluids looking at that match up. Williams v. Amherst. The “Biggest Little Game in America” (women’s soccer edition). The two tied played to a 0-0 tie in this year’s regular season. One has to say that all bets are off for that sort of rivalry game but it’s hard not to put money on a team with Rubii Tamlen in this form, particularly against a Williams which has shown to be slightly weaker this year.


Other Sectional Previews:  MIDWEST | AMERICAN | EAST

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