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Ruppersberger’s hat trick powers Herons back to Liberty League title game

  • / Updated:
  • Kyle Evans 

For the 21st consecutive season, the William Smith College soccer team has advanced to the championship match of the Liberty League Championship Tournament. Senior midfielder Ava Ruppersberger produced her first collegiate hat trick to lead the top-seeded Herons to a 7-0 victory over fifth-seeded Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Cozzens Field today.


  • In the 24th minute, Ruppersberger took a shot from the left side of the box that deflected off a defender’s foot, but still carried enough pace to beat goalie Megan Wampner for the early lead.
  • Five minutes later, Marjorie Plants sent a cross from the top left of the box to Moira van der Putt, who settled the ball to her left foot and buried a shot from the six to make it 2-0.
  • William Smith carried a 3-0 advantage into the break thanks to a free kick from just outside the penalty area on the right side. Ruth Hotaling delivered a cross to the back post that Plants redirected home for her third goal of the season.
  • In the second half, the Herons fired in three more goals in a span of just 2 minutes, 33 seconds. Marissa Mastracco, who assisted on Ruppersberger’s first goal, started the flurry, heading home a Hotaling corner kick in the 65th minute.
  • Fifty-three seconds later, Katrine Berg ripped a shot off a direct kick at the lower left corner of the cage. Goalie Sierra Skelding made the save, but the rebound found its way to Ruppersberger who put it back on frame, banking it in off a defender for her eighth goal of the season.
  • It took just 1:40 for Ruppersberger to strike again. This time Shayna Straney played a ball from the midfield that was just out of reach of her intended target. An RPI defender allowed the ball to roll past her intending to playing away from the attacking Herons, but Ruppersberger was in her blind spot waiting to pounce. Her initial shot was smothered by Skelding at the six, but she deposited the rebound in the lower right corner for a 6-0 lead in the 67th minute.
  • William Smith’s final goal of the day was an Olympico by Straney, who hooked in a corner kick from the right side in the 71st minute.


  • Through the first 20 minutes, both teams were generating scoring chances, Wampner stopped the first four shots she faced and logged eight saves total in the first half.
  • Skelding made four saves in the second half in relief.
  • William Smith also used two goalies. Starter Kirsten Nelson made three saves in 70 minutes of work, while Zoe Weeks stopped the only shot she faced in the final 20 minutes.


“I couldn’t be prouder of our soccer Herons. We had to crawl our way back up to be able to host the semifinal and the championship. That took a lot of application, a lot of focus. We felt really good about how our game came together at St. Lawrence, which was a must-win for us. We were frustrated after we tied at Vassar. The kids really bought into the work we had to do and the preparation was strong last week and it was strong again this week.
“I wouldn’t have expected, to be honest, a 7-0 result because we have a high regard for RPI and they have been dragon slayers down the stretch. They tied Ithaca. That’s something most teams weren’t able to do in-conference. They beat Vassar, which we weren’t able to do. And [Head Coach] Bre [Nasypany-Cicero], who is near and dear to my heart, has done a great job with moving RPI into the postseason.”

– William Smith Head Coach Aliceann Wilber


  • The seven goals are the most the Herons have scored in a Liberty League Tournament match, surpassing the previous high-water mark of five (vs. Vassar in the 2015 semifinals & vs. Union in 2016 semifinals).
  • It’s the most goals scored by William Smith against Rensselaer since the Herons scored 12 against the Engineers in Troy in 1992.
  • William Smith leads the all-time series with RPI 34-2-0.


  • The Herons will the Liberty League Championship match on Sunday, Nov. 5. They will take on the winner of today’s other semifinal, third-seeded Ithaca at second-seeded RIT. That match is slated to start at 4 p.m.
  • Sunday’s game time will be announced later today.