The third-ranked women’s soccer team defeated top-ranked and undefeated Washington University-St. Louis (WashU) in a 1-0 win at the NCAA Division III semifinals in Greensboro, North Carolina. Advancing to the championship game Williams, this will be the first championship appearance in the program’s history.
The team’s journey to the Final Four was the first since 2013 and second in program history. After winning the NESCAC Championship 1-0 against Williams, the team scored wins against Maine-Farmington (4-1), Ithaca (0-0 with a win on penalty kicks), Swarthmore (2-0) and Misericordia (1-0) and traveled to Greensboro with an 18-1-3 record. Last year, the team’s 12-4-2 record brought them to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The first half was largely a battle at midfield, with Caitlin Magruder ’20 sustaining an injury after a collision with WashU’s Maggie Crist. Jinx Charman ’20 was brought in as a substitute following Magruder’s injury.
With just over two minutes into the second half, Simone Ameer ’21 brought the Panthers’ lead to 1-0 with a goal assisted by Ellie Greenberg ’20 and Gretchen McGrath ’21. This was Ameer’s fourth goal of the season. With eight minutes left in the second game, Alwang saved a header shot by the Bears’ Maggie Crist. The Panthers’ defense was led by Rose Evans ’22, assisted by starters Amanda Dafonte’ 19, Janie DeVito ’19 and Isabelle Hartnett ’21.
“I think this was probably one of the hardest games of the season for us,” captain Dafonte said in a press conference following the game. “It was one that we went into saying that we were going to work harder and we were going to go out with heart and leave it all out on the field.”
Fellow captain Abby Blyler ’19 attributed the team’s success to intense competition throughout the season. “In every game that we face, anyone could win on any given day. We have had competition throughout the entire season and I think that has prepared us a lot for this tournament,” she said.
Ameer, the game’s only scorer, agreed with her teammates when she said that the team was able to hold together following Magruder’s injury. “When we were able to just get in the game and settle down a bit we found our rhythm more and just felt more able to play like ourselves,” she said.
Urusula Alwang ’20 spent all 90 minutes in goal with three saves. The WashU Bears finished their previously 21-0 undefeated season with a total of 62 goals and an average of 2.95 goals per game.
Williams enters the championship game after a 2-0 win and will seek its second consecutive championship and third in four years.
“There is an energy on this team that feels like a winning team and so I think to go all the way to the national championship is an awesome reward for that feeling we had at the beginning of the season,” Dafonte commented. “It’s going to be a great game and we couldn’t be more excited.”
The championship game will be streamed on NCAA.com here, starting at 7 p.m on Saturday, December 1.