Ephwomen's Soccer History
Williams women's varsity soccer began play in the fall of 1978 against a handful of other New England colleges and universities. Since 1992 Williams has also sponsored a junior varsity team, accommodating the ever-growing number of women playing soccer.
In the 1990s, the Ephs consistently qualified for post-season competition and have been competitive in every outing. The Ephs won the 1989 Northeast Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title and the 1990 ECAC-New England title and qualified for the NCAA tournament six of the seven years that they were eligible.
In 1999 the Ephs hosted the NCAA semifinals and finals on Cole Field. Williams lost in the semifinals to Macalester (Mn). The University of California-San Diego won the title.
Then coach Lisa Melendy led the Ephs to the NESCAC quarterfinals and the semifinals of the ECAC-New England Tournament in 2000.
In 2001 Melendy guided the Ephs to a perfect regular season mark of 13-0-0 and a 9-0-0 NESCAC mark. The Ephs advanced to the NCAA Tournament where they defeated Framingham State 9-0 and then lost to Western Connecticut 2-1 in OT.
In the summer of 2002 Michelyne Pinard was named the Ephs' head coach as Lisa Melendy moved into the role of Senior Women's Administrator at Williams.
In 2004, the Ephs finished 10-5-4, defeating Middlebury in penalty kicks to capture their first NESCAC Tournament title and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The 2007 Ephs set school records for most wins in a season and most consecutive wins in a season by winning their first 17 games. The Ephs went undefeated in NESCAC regular season and tournament play and won their first NESCAC title since 2004. Williams advanced to the "Sweet 16" in the NCAA Tournament and finished with a record of 17-1.
That record (wins in a single season) was subsequently broken by the '08 and '09 teams, which each won 19 contests.
Over the past four seasons (2007-10), Williams has climbed to a higher level, winning .894 percent of its games (70-7-3), capturing four consecutive conference championships and qualifying for four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, advancing to the third round twice, the national quarterfinals once and the national semifinals once.
Three of the last four seasons, the NESCAC Player of the Year has been an Eph — Gabrielle Woodson in 2007, Brianna Wolfson in 2009 and Sara Wild in 2010. In that time, seven players have been named All-America, and one an ESPN District 1 Academic All-American.
Pinard's program at Williams is based around team goals and focused on what each individual can do to help the team win. Fundamentally, the coaching staff focuses on direct, honest communication between players, teammates and coaches as well as work rate and commitment.
Year in and year out, Pinard has focused on bringing a certain type of student-athlete into the soccer program.
"There is a difference between those who work hard and those who compete with fire," she said. "It's easy to work hard, it's much harder to compete at your highest level each and every day be it in practices or games, especially when there are academic obligations that are important and intense at a place like Williams." Student-athletes like that are what makes the program successful and rewarding.
Through individual meetings, strengths and weaknesses are discussed and a plan mapped out. Similarly this process is carried out as a team, setting both short and long-term goals and the strategy for achieving them.
Team training begins in late spring when individual meetings are held to develop a summer training program. Over the summer it is the responsibility of each individual to follow the fitness-training program and to work on individual technical skills. Many student-athletes compete for their respective club teams all over the country. Players are expected to arrive for pre-season practice prepared to work hard through the double sessions.
The fall season is as intense as it gets. The NESCAC league is so competitive that it brings the best out of every athlete and coach. Athletes at Williams recognize this and work hard all year around to make sure they are ready.
Overall it is an exciting and rewarding team experience where every single player is committed to individual excellence and team success.