Senior Spotlight: Center Back Taylor Williams ’24
Taylor Williams ’24 of women’s soccer reflects on her growth over the years in her role as a defender and as a team leader.
This past fall, Taylor Williams ’24 earned an All-Ivy League Second Team distinction, joining just 33 other athletes across Ivy League women’s soccer to receive the honor. For Williams, the award represented the hard work she put in to play a big role on the field this season.
“With the new coaching staff, it was so nice for them to have that confidence in me to put me on the field and give me the chance to show what I can do, " Williams said. “It’s a great honor to be honored by the Ivy League.”
From last year to now — and through a coaching change and significant offseason preparations — Williams moved from starting just seven games and playing a total of 615 minutes across the 2022 season to starting 15 out of 15 games with 1330 accumulated minutes, the third most on the team this past fall.
As Dartmouth’s veteran center back, Williams led the team through courageous defensive efforts, as well as composed and intelligent offensive play to start many of the Big Green’s attacks. Head Varsity Coach Taylor Schram, who returned to Dartmouth after a few years at Boston College, cites Williams’s innate understanding of the game as one of her most exemplary qualities as a soccer player.
“[Williams is] a key defender within [our] backline… She understands the game really well, she cleans things up, it’s really difficult to get around her and she’ll make the big impact plays when they need to happen,” Schram said.
According to Schram — who coached Williams during her first year at Dartmouth — Williams’s ability to understand the game in the fast-paced and highly competitive Ivy League was always apparent. However, her confidence and persona truly allowed her to shine this past fall.
“As the season went on, [Williams became] comfortable in her role, confident in her role, and now, she’s using her voice more than ever this season,” Schram said. “A big part of our success as a defensive unit throughout the season was her ability to not only read the game at a high level within her own head, but [also] give that information to the players around her so that we can make collective decisions as a defensive unit.”
Schram noticed Williams’s impact most prominently in the team’s final match against Brown University. In their 2-0 loss, Williams played all 90 minutes, providing solid and unflinching defense against Brown’s nationally touted offense.
Williams “went eye-to-eye with one of the best forwards in the country, and one of the best offensive units in the country,” according to Schram.
For her teammates, Williams’s presence provides security, so that they can play ambitiously knowing that her leadership and sense will ensure the team’s safety.
Captain Grace Faulkner ’24 credited Williams as the backbone of the team’s ball-dominant and possession-based approach this past fall.
“Because we can have so much trust in [Williams] and in our backline, it gives people the ability to be able to go forward with ease because they know that we have such a solid center back holding down on the backline,” Faulkner said.
Williams’s impact was tangible this season. From last season to this season, Dartmouth improved greatly in-conference — moving up two places — and their goals-allowed per game fell from 1.29 in 2022 to 0.87 in 2023. The great leadership and organization Williams provided this fall for Dartmouth’s defense attributed to this notable improvement.
Williams’s monumental presence is not just felt by her team on the field. When asked what is something important about Williams, both Schram and Faulkner answered similarly: she truly shows care for the relationships she shares with her teammates.
“One of the things that makes her so special as a leader is that she really commits herself to the relationships that she builds with her teammates,” Schram said.
Faulkner similarly attested that “every single person on the team loves and trusts [Williams, and] we wouldn’t be who we are on the field without her.”
Williams’s love for soccer began a long time ago, starting with her father’s involvement with the sport.
“My dad played semi-pro … He put a soccer ball on my crib,” Williams said. “I was going to play soccer. [My dad made] me watch Premier League games on Saturday mornings.”
Williams credited her time on the soccer team as one of the reasons why she has had such a positive experience in Hanover.
“It’s just that extra layer of community,” Williams said.
She pointed to both moments on the field — such as the team’s early season victory over Yale University — and moments off, like coaching young kids in soccer through their volunteering status with the Carter Community Building Association as moments that exemplified her experience with the soccer team.
Under Schram’s guidance, Williams felt a strong sense of trust between herself and the coaching staff that propelled her play this past season.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Williams received an extra season of eligibility which she will use to stay on as a fifth year and continue playing for the fall of 2024. Both Williams and the women’s soccer program can look forward to one more year of her contributions to the backline.