Pinard era kicked off with victories over Camels, Pride

After 17 years of steady leadership under former Head Coach Lisa Melendy, one might think that women’s soccer would need some time to adjust to playing for rookie Head Coach Michelyne Pinard. Fortunately for the Ephs (2-0; 1-0 NESCAC), who are currently ranked 24th in the nation in the latest NSCAA Division III polls, the transition thus far has been nothing short of flawless.

Williams dominated in their first two contests this season, capturing victories in both and running their regular season winning streak to a staggering 15 games. Most recently, the Ephs topped Connecticut College (1-2, 0-1 in NESCAC) 3-1 on Saturday in the NESCAC opener for both squads.

“We played really well against Connecticut,” Pinard said. “Their field was a little bit smaller than we’re used to, and we were under a lot of pressure playing in such a confined space. Fortunately, we were able to spread the field and convert on our opportunities.”

Kate Harkey ’06 and Hannah Stauffer ’05 led the Eph attack with a goal and an assist apiece, while goalkeeper Lindsay Starner ’05 tallied five saves.

“Lindsay was phenomenal,” Pinard said. “Conn. College took a few really tough shots, and Lindsay just made some great saves.”

Following a corner kick from Stauffer, Sharla Dodd ’03 opened the scoring in the 38th minute with her first goal of the season.

The Camels responded six minutes later, evening the score with a goal by star midfielder Christa Thoresz, assisted by Lauren Luciano.

“Thoresz is really an outstanding player,” Pinard said. “She was all over the field, and it was a big challenge for our defenders to contain her. She’s definitely one of the most dangerous players in the NESCAC.”

A minute later, the Ephs grabbed the lead for good with a score by Harkey, which was assisted on by Claire Samuel ’04. Stauffer then ended the scoring with a valuable insurance goal from the top of the penalty box in the 55th minute, on which Sarah Krygowski ’05 picked up the assist.

On Tuesday, the Ephs opened the regular season with an impressive 3-0 road victory against Springfield in Pinard’s head coaching debut.

“Overall, I was very happy with our performance,” Pinard said. “We worked hard and overcame some first-game jitters, and we were able to play a much better second half than first.”

Returning second team All-American Stacey Starner ’03 continued her ascent into the Williams record books against the Pride, sparking the Eph offense with a goal and an assist.

Starner is currently three goals shy of the all-time Williams women’s soccer scoring mark of 38, which has stood where Christine Boddicker ’88 set it for the past 15 years. In addition, Starner’s 85 career points leaves her only four points behind the leader in that category, Mindy Thompson ’98.

Not to be outdone, younger sister Lindsay Starner ’05 tallied four saves, collecting her first shutout of the season. Kristen Van Woert ’04, assisted by Lydia Crafts ’04, and Samuel each contributed a goal for Williams, while Krygowski added an assist.

Goalkeeper Christine McCarey notched 12 saves in a losing cause for Springfield.

With three all-NESCAC selections (Starner, defender Colleen Doody ’03 and Samuel) returning from last year’s 15-2 squad, the Ephs figure to be once again among the top contenders for the conference crown.

Not surprisingly though, Williams will face stiff competition from teams around the league, and especially from archrival Amherst, which is currently ranked second in the nation.

Williams will hit the road for its next contest against Smith in a non-conference affair on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

The Ephs will then resume NESCAC play in their home opener against the Bowdoin Polar Bears on Saturday at 12 p.m.