KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With a goal in the first half from forward Audrey Thomas, Williams overcame Johns Hopkins on Friday night with a 1-0 win.
This matchup in last year’s NCAA Division III women’s tournament occurred in the Round of 16, when Johns Hopkins came away victors by a 2-1 score in overtime.
Nearly ten minutes into the first half, Thomas steered a shot past the goalkeeper that proved to be enough to win the match for Williams.Although the game only had one goal, both teams came away with a lot of opportunities to score, which was a result of each teams’ willingness to attack, according to Thomas.
“They played a pretty deep back line. So it was fun as a target forward to play as high on the field as possible and just hope that we could move the ball in the spaces around there,” Thomas said. “We made plenty of chances at scoring.”
Williams head coach Michelyne Pinard spoke about the recent rivalry between the two schools, which began with Johns Hopkins defeating Williams in last year’s quarterfinal.
“There are a lot of overlapping things. We’re so similar in so many ways, but students find a place for themselves,” she said about the competition to recruit players from the same area. “There are always some great players that we’d love to have. It’s a great opportunity to play them in a national semifinal.”
Pinard was quick to show respect to her team’s opponent.
“They are an unbelievable team,” she said. “It’s so great to have two academic institutions of that caliber that play soccer at this level. To beat a team like that and advance to the national championship is so surreal. I’m not even sure if it has processed yet.”
“Last year they were a new team,” Thomas said. “We realized how incredible of a team they were last year by losing in overtime. So it was a personal issue, we definitely wanted to avenge that loss.”
Williams came into the NCAA Division III tournament having won the New England Small Collegiate Athletic Conference. The team took the chance to avenge last year’s loss to Johns Hopkins.
“We’ve been working all season toward it and we thought at first it was a lofty goal,” Thomas said. “But now that we’re here and living it, we figure we have as good a chance as anyone.”
Pinard commended her team’s ability on defense to play with a thin lead for 80 minutes.
“Getting the early goal was a great relief but I think at some point Hopkins turned it on and I’m very pleased with our defense, discipline, and organization defensively,” she said. “We walk away from that game thrilled that we won but we know we have more in us.”
Johns Hopkins made its first appearance in a semifinal in school history, while Williams will be making its first national championship in school history tomorrow.
“We’re completely ecstatic, there are no words to describe how I’m feeling because this team has been special from day one and I’m so happy for them,” Pinard said. “I can’t believe we get to play tomorrow in the national championship.”