Normally, Anna Thurston would be thinking about track, and Ali Omsberg would be thinking about how to improve for the next season.

But Thurston and Omsberg play on the women’s soccer team at Middlebury College, which means they are among the small percentage of players whose fall season is still going strong. Middlebury will play host William Smith College in an NCAA Division III Sweet 16 game at 11 a.m. Saturday in Geneva, N.Y.

Omsberg, a Messalonskee graduate, has seen action in 13 games as a freshman midfielder. She has one goal on the season, and it was the game-winner in a 1-0 victory over Bates. Thurston, a junior from Waterville, has played in seven games as a member of Middlebury’s defense.

The soccer prowess of the Omsberg family is well known in central Maine. Omsberg’s older brother, Cameron, is a starter at Lehigh. Her younger brother, Wyatt, helped lead Messalonskee to the Class A state title game this season.

Ali said watching Cameron wait a year to contribute at Lehigh had some impact on her decision to play at a Division III school.

“It was easier to figure out where I wanted to go to school after watching my brother go through that process,” Omsberg said. “I didn’t really want to sit on the bench for a couple years.”

Thurston, who is also a sprinter on the track and field team, is majoring in economics with a minor in mathematics.

“I came to visit because my grandmother went here,” Thurston said. “I came here and basically fell in love.”

Having been in the program for three years, Thurston is in a better position to analyze Middlebury’s improvement this season. The Panthers are 13-3-2 this season after finishing 8-5-3 last fall and missing out on the NCAAs.

“We’ve kind of just clicked as a team,” Thurston said. “We all kind of know each other, and we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s good to play on a team that just kind of gets you.”

Middlebury has allowed 11 goals this season, but none in the past eight games. The Panthers have shut out every opponent since a 1-0 loss to Hamilton on Oct. 8.

“Our defense is playing together really well, (a) really good level,” Omsberg said. “After their loss at Hamilton, they just pulled it together defensively.”

“We have a great offense,” Thurston said. “But more importantly, as a team, we know how to play defense. That’s one of those things that we do very well.”

Thurston said the Panthers haven’t changed their preparation as they head into games against unknown opponents. Middlebury already has defeated Lasell and The College of New Jersey in the NCAA tournament.

“The level of competitiveness in the NESCAC has definitely gone up this year,” Thurston said. “It’s been a consistent build-up throughout the season to encounter better teams that we’re going to face.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]


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