This weekend is the biggest sports weekend of the fall for several Williams athletic teams.

  • The main attraction, of course, is homecoming.  Usually, the focus when Wesleyan is the opponent is on the festivities, rather than the game, which is in most years a foregone conclusion.  This year is a different story.  First, the Ephs will be looking for redemption after last year’s loss vs. Amherst, their first homecoming non-win (and hence, first time they haven’t enjoyed The Walk) since 1995 (!).  Second, a potential NESCAC title is on the line — if Williams wins Saturday, they are guaranteed the title with a win vs. Amherst (and if Amherst loses to Trinity, they are guaranteed a share of the title even with a loss vs. Amherst).  Third, and most intriguingly, is of course the return of former Eph head coach Mike Whalen, assistant coach Dan Dicenzo ’00, and quarterback Matt Coyne ’12.  Needless to say, there will be no shortage of motivation for either side, in this one.  Williams will be looking to show Whalen, Dicenzo, and Coyne just how big a mistake they made leaving the friendly confines of the purple valley.  Coyne and Dicenzo, on the other hand, will be aiming to prove that, perhaps, their talents were not sufficiently appreciated in Williamstown.  And a solid 4-2 Wesleyan squad will also receive plenty of help from Shea Dwyer ’10 (he’s a grad student), who is leading the nation in rushing.  Looking to slow Dwyer down will be an Eph defense led by local legend Dylan Schultz ’11.  Of course, all of the public pre-game talk from both sides will surely claim that this is “just another game,” among other sports cliches.  It isn’t.  Watch the game, for free, here.
  • This weekend is also the heart of the NESCAC fall championship season.  Men’s soccer was stunned by Wesleyan last weekend, and is waiting to hear if it will receive an NCAA bid to continue its season.  Usually-dominant women’s soccer, after an up-and-down season, seems to be peaking at the right time, and is headed to Amherst in search of, incredibly, its fourth straight NESCAC title.  If they beat Middlebury in the semifinals, the squad will get a chance for revenge against one of the two conference opponents to upset them this year, Bates or Amherst.  Meanwhile, Volleyball also heads to Amherst this weekend, where (despite being three-time defending champions) they enter the NESCAC tournament as a long-shot sixth seed.
  • Tonight, the weekend gets off to a fun start with an exhibition between the 13th-ranked men’s ice hockey squad and the Swedish junior national team.  A rare chance for locals to see a slew of future NHL players in action.

Other athletics stories of note from the past month:

  • First known members of the class of 2015?  It may be soccer star Andres Burbank-Crump, who has committed to apply early decision to Williams, and two-time Rhode Island state tennis champion Rebecca Curran, who likewise sounds headed to Williams.  Another potential future Eph is a 5’5 (!) running back with a 4.0 GPA, Dominic Sena, who has a “standing offer” from Williams and is also considering the Naval Academy.
  • Not quite athletics, but in rivalry news, congrats to Williams for recapturing the Green Chicken from Middlebury.  The Green Chicken contest is, along with The Walk, Mountain Day and Trivia, one of my favorite quirky Williams traditions.
  • Congrats to Anthony Kroker ’75 on his induction into the Auburn High School athletic hall of fame.
  • The women’s golf program, after a tremendous fall, has earned its highest ever national ranking, fourth.  Considering that the top five players are all sophomores and frosh, the team should be a national contender for many years to come (despite facing the huge disadvantage of a far shorter practice season than rivals to the South).  New coach and area-native Erika DeSanty has done a tremendous job, coaching last year’s team to its best-ever finish, then bringing in three top-notch players (one of whom chose Williams over Princeton) in her first recruiting class.
  • Congrats to Alex Smigelski ’10, who scored on a penalty shot for the Wheeling Nailors last week.  Smigelski is tied for third on the team in goals scored.  My sense, and someone with more knowledge should correct me if I’m mistaken, is that Wheeling is the ice hockey equivalent of a AA baseball team.
  • Finally, be sure to check out Blake Schultz ’10’s very entertaining blog chronicling his experiences playing professional basketball in Germany.  I particularly enjoyed his description of his first session coaching a group of ten year old German kids:

The first couple of minutes were like the start to those really awkward blind dates you see on TV.  These little ten-year olds and I were just kind of standing there, looking at each other, not sure what to do.  Then one of them tried to read the back of my Williams Bball shirt: “eets a greet dey to bi en eph”.

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