The 10th-ranked William Smith field hockey team will host the 2006 Liberty League Championship Tournament, Nov. 3-4, on McCooey Field. The Herons finished atop the regular season standings for the fourth year in a row and the ninth time in the 12-year history of the league.
William Smith (13-3, 6-1) will host fourth-seeded Rensselaer (8-8, 4-3) in the first semifinal at 11 a.m. No. 2 St. Lawrence (10-4, 6-1) will battle No. 3 Skidmore (11-5, 5-2) in the second semifinal at 1:30 p.m. The winners will meet in Saturday's championship match at 2 p.m. Live statistics for all three games can be accessed via the tournament Web page.
The Liberty League Champion receives an automatic bid to the 24-team NCAA Division III Tournament. The NCAA Championship round also will be played on McCooey Field on Nov. 17-18.
The Herons are the two-time defending champions of the Liberty League and have laid claim to seven conference championships since the league was formed in 1995.
William Smith is led offensively by forward Sophie Dennis (Dana L. West/Port Byron, N.Y.). The senior is second in the nation in points per game (3.44) and fifth in the nation in goals per game (1.31) and assists per game (0.81).
Dennis leads the Liberty League with 21 goals, six more than any other play in the conference. She is joined in the top 10 by four of her teammates, senior Brooke Atwood (Marathon/Marathon, N.Y.), senior Liz Saucier (Old Town/Old Town, Maine), senior Ashley Barker (Cape Elizabeth/Cape Elizabeth, Maine), and first-year Kaitlyn Hamilton (Harpursville/Harpursville, N.Y.).
In addition to the top scoring offense, the Herons also boast the stingiest defense among the tournament's teams. William Smith sports a goals against average of 1.23, second only to fifth place finisher Rochester. The Heron defense is led by 2005 all-stars junior Skylar Beaver (Williamsville North/Williamsville, N.Y.) and sophomore Charlotte Styer (Governor Mifflin/Mohnton, Pa.). They are tied for the Liberty League lead with three defensive saves each.
William Smith will close out its regular season schedule on Oct. 27, when the Herons travel to Nazareth College for a non-conference match scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.