GENEVA — Players always look to impact a game coming off the bench.
Junior Caitlyn Mitchell wasted no time in making her presence felt Saturday for the William Smith soccer team. Mitchell netted the game’s only goal immediately after entering the game and the third-ranked Herons earned their seventh consecutive Liberty League title with a 1-0 victory over No. 24 RIT at Cozzens Field.
“With the depth and competitiveness this year in the Liberty League, I think this may have been the most significant title,” William Smith coach Aliceann Wilber said. “We have a classic example (of the program’s legacy) in Brelynn Nasypany, who experience this streak and now coaches our JVs. She knows more than anyone else about the history and she takes it very seriously. She imparts the responsibility to carry on that legacy; it’s a good one.”
William Smith goalie Chelsea Dunay (2 saves) anchored a Herons defense that recorded their 10th straight shutout. William Smith (17-1) outshot RIT 19-4.
“We work on the defending aspect daily; we pay attention to detail in defending individually and as a team. It’s apparent in this block of shutouts,” Wilber said. “Chelsea is constantly organizing in front of her and we’ve got the pace to match up with pretty much anyone teams put against us.”
Mitchell entered the game on a William Smith corner kick and got her head on the end of a cross from MacKenzie Smith with just over five minutes left before halftime.
“All credit to RIT. They came in and put us on our heels much of the first half. We just weren’t finding the possessions we were accustomed to,” Wilber said. “Caitlyn had just gotten into the game and got a good piece of the ball for a nice goal.”
William Smith midfielder Dineo Mmutla was named tournament MVP. She was joined on the all-tournament squad by teammates Dunay, Mitchell, Smith, Brenna Kincaid and Olivia Zitoli.
The Herons locked down an automatic bid to the NCAA DIII tournament with the win. The brackets will be released Monday.
“For the most part we came out of the weekend healthy. As coaches you always worry about injuries this time of year,” Wilber said. “I think today’s game was helpful in preparation for nationals. We experienced a significant amount of discomfort and were able to adjust.”