WATERVILLE — Some members of the Thomas College men’s soccer team let out a sigh of relief when the bracket revealed the Terriers will not play defending national champion Ohio Wesleyan in the first round of the NCAA Division III men’s soccer tournament.

A few minutes later, when the Terriers learned their opponent will be Williams College, any remaining nervousness in the room evaporated amongst the applause.

“We imagined a few big teams, Messiah was one of them, but it didn’t really matter,” junior goalie Mikkail Crockwell said.

Thomas (15-2-2) will take on Williams at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Williamstown, Mass., in the first round. If the Terriers win, they’ll face either St. Lawrence or Eastern Connecticut State on Sunday.

The national championship game will be played Dec. 1 in San Antonio, Texas.

The Terriers watched the selection show in the Spann Student Commons surrounded by other students and faculty. This is Thomas’ second trip to the NCAA tournament in three years. The Terriers earned their spot with a 3-0 win over Husson in the North Atlantic Conference championship game Saturday night.

Williams lost to Amherst 2-0 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference championship game Sunday. It was the first loss of the season for the Ephs (13-1-3).

“I was an assistant coach at Bates and Bowdoin, and we played Williams. They’re a very good team,” Thomas coach Chris Parsons said. “I watched them play in the NESCAC finals (Sunday) against Amherst. That was their first loss of the season, in the championship against Amherst. It’s an honor for us to play a team from the NESCAC.”

Before the bracket was announced at 1 p.m. on Monday, Williams was one of the most likely possible opponents, Parsons said.

“I had a feeling that we would come in as a lower seed and usually the top seeds come from the NESCAC,” Parsons said. “I figured it might be a WIlliams or an Amherst or a Tufts. This is kind of what we expected.”

Even though the Terriers knew they had a spot in the tournament, it was still nerve-wracking to wait to see Thomas appear in the bracket, Crockwell said.

“I got a bit nervous, but at the same time, it didn’t matter who we played as long as we do what we have to do when we play,” Crockwell said. “It’s game time this week. It’s training time, time to work hard and do what we have to do.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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