William Smith College’s coaches and players vowed not to look back at last year’s miraculous season, but it’s getting a little harder to do lately.
The BR-3 Herons lost their season-opening game to The College of New Jersey, 2-1, in 2013. They went on to win 23 straight matches, finishing with a 2-0 win over Trinity in Texas to win the NCAA Division II championship.
We made a pact that we’re not talking about last year
“We made a pact that we’re not talking about last year,” William Smith head coach Aliceann Wilber said. “We agreed that the lessons we learned that allowed us to be successful we’re going to hold on to, but last year is in the storage bin because it does us no good.”
Well, not so fast.
The Herons lost two of their first three matches before roaring to a seven-match winning streak. Six of the seven victories have been shutout wins.
On the way to the second national crown in program history, William Smith put together a string of 16 straight shutouts, the third-longest streak in NCAA history.
Most recently, Williams Smith beat Bard, 6-0, and drubbed Vassar, 5-0, to open play in the Liberty League.
Madeline Buckley leads Williams Smith with eight goals and two assists for 18 points. Kara Shue has seven assists to go with three goals to account for 13 points.
“I think we’re in a fortunate situation with the arsenal of front players that we have,” Wilber said. “We can get goals from a lot of players, and different kinds of goals.”
MaryClaire Pelletier anchors a deep group of midfielders. She has two goals and one assist this season.
“[Pelletier] is demonstrating a lot of leadership in the midfield,” Wilber said. “That’s a smart group of midfielders, and very industrious”
The back line includes senior Brenna Kincaid and sophomores Bridget Westerman and Emma Diehl. Westerman and Diehl started all 24 games as freshmen.
“We’re hoping we can play with the kind of maturity that you would expect after having more games under your belt,” Wilber said. “Are we smart enough to do that this year? I think that will be important.”