Women’s Soccer Falls to Williams in First National Championship Final


The women’s soccer team celebrates after advancing to the Final Four on November 18.

In a tense 1-1 game by the end of two overtime periods, the women’s soccer team was defeated by the Williams Ephs 3-2 in penalty kicks in the NCAA Division III championship. This was the first championship appearance of the Panthers in program history.

The previous day, on November 30, the Panthers defeated the WashU Bears 1-0 in a stunning upset to advance to the national championship. Led by NESCAC Coach of the Year Peter Kim, this was the team’s second journey to the Final Four in program history, having previously competed in 2013. On the way to the championship match, the team secured wins against Maine-Farmington (4-1), Ithaca (0-0 with a win on penalty kicks), Swarthmore (2-0), Misericordia (1-0), and most recently WashU (1-0). Last year, Middlebury’s 12-4-2 record brought them to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Williams’ journey to the championship match was achieved after a 2-0 win against Christopher Newport in the semifinals and placing second in the NESCAC Championship. The Ephs traveled to Greensboro with a 17-1-4 record.

This was the third time Middlebury competed against Williams this season, suffering a 0-1 loss at the end of the regular season on October 23 and winning the NESCAC Championship 1-0 in Williamstown on November 4.

The first half included a goal by Williams’ Aspen Pierson assisted by Ilana Albert and Georgia Lord, her fourth goal of the season. Olivia Miller ’20 and Eliza Robinson ’21 attempted shots on Williams goalie Olivia Barnhill.

With 13 minutes remaining in the second half, the game became tied 1-1 by a Williams own goal. Clare Robinson ’19 and Eliza Robinson ’21 contributed to the Panthers’ total of six shots during regulation play. With the score tied at the end of the second half, the game proceeded into overtime.

In the first overtime period, a shot by Williams’ Sarah Scire was saved by goalie Ursula Alwang ’20. This was Alwang’s 2nd save of the game and 67th of the season. Continuing through the rain, both teams went into a scoreless second overtime period and penalty kicks.

Goalie Eva Shaw ‘19.5 was substituted for Alwang for the penalty kicks. Against Amherst, she made two saves at the NESCAC semifinals and three saves against Ithaca in the NCAA tournament. With shots made by Sara DiCenso ’19 and Cate Shellenback ’22 and missed by Magnolia Moskun ‘21.5, Riley Kinum ’22 and Clare Robinson ’19, the Ephs defeated the Panthers 3-2 in penalty kicks.

This is the Ephs’ third title in four years, making the team the fourth program in NCAA Division III history to win back-to-back championship titles.

“It’s always a hard-fought battle between these two teams. We know each other really well,” head coach Peter Kim said in a press conference following the game. “We have a very special senior class…they have led by example and pulled the team along.”

“I think we really did a great job playing how we like to play — possessing the ball — and we knew when we had to play a little more direct. We were in it the whole time and I’m just really proud of that,” commented senior captain Abby Blyler.

The Panthers finished their season with a 19-1-4 record, 51 goals and an average of 19.3 shots per game. Clare Robinson ’19 and Janie DeVito ’19 were selected to the first all-NESCAC team, while Alwang, Amanda Dafonte ’19 and Eliza Van Voorhis ’21 earned spots on the second team. At the conclusion of the final match, Alwang, Rose Evans ’22, Simone Ameer ’21 and Claire Robinson ’19 were named to the all-tournament team.