Women’s soccer has yet to lose a battle this season, racing to an undefeated 10–0–1. The Ephs are building on last season’s championship.
The team’s talent was evident in 2015 when the Ephs went undefeated, winning 21 games to earn a title at the Div. III National Championships. Since 2002, when Head Coach Michelyne Pinard joined the staff, the team has a 0.744 win percentage (210–43–29), a record that is unprecedented in the annals of Williams women’s soccer. Previously, Coach Leslie Orton (1978–1984) led the team to a .377 winning percentage, and long-tenured Coach Lisa Melendy (1985–2001) led the team with a 0.722 mark to a record of 195–55–20.
Pinard attributes the recent outstanding teams to the culture present at the College.
“Williams attracts amazing student-athletes who are driven, exceptionally hard workers and are inspired by pursuing excellence with other people,” she said. I believe our success as a program has been a result of harnessing those natural tendencies Williams students possess and creating a team culture that celebrates commitment, competing and communication and caring more about the success of the person next to you than your own success. The combination of all of that has been a force behind our recent run.”
Captain Tressa Palcheck ’17 echoed Pinard, commenting on the fantastic team atmosphere of the soccer program.
“The team has been so successful because of how supportive we are for each other. We really try to foster an environment that is competitive, but also supportive, and everyone knows that we are more successful when we put the team first.”
On women’s soccer, everyone has a role to play. “We also have incredible depth,” Pinard said. “Our depth wins us so many games. It also allows us to train at an incredibly high level. Many times our training days are even more intense than our games. That prepares us to play at a really high level throughout the season.”
Both Pinard and Palcheck also attributed the recent successes to the team’s training schedule, which bears traces of Pinard’s own innovative coaching style.
“About 10 years ago, I started taking an extra day off a week from training,” she said. “This allowed the students a chance to be even more committed to their academics and other service they do on campus, while it allowed them to be even more inspired, rested and ready to work when we are training. We work hard when we’re together and ask the students to step away and get recharged when we don’t have practices or games by pursuing excellence in the classroom and community.”
This method of scheduling practice allows players to balance their academic workloads while also ensuring that they are prepared for the games.
“We play Saturday and Sunday, and take Monday off,” Pinard said. “Practice Tuesday and Wednesday, take Thursday off, and then a short light practice on Friday. Less time at practice has meant more productive and focused practices. That extra day off a week has made a substantial difference for our team.”
After the monumental success of winning the championship last season, the Ephs remain focused and ready to defend the title. “This season, I think we, as a team, are trying to focus on the present. We are proud of what we did last year, but we know we have to work hard if we want to get back to where we were. We don’t expect anything to come easy for us, so we are focused on controlling what is in our power and working hard so we can put forth our best in every game,” Palcheck said.