Mai Mitsuyama started all 86 games of her collegiate career for the Williams College women's soccer team.
In the Ephs' run to the NCAA Division 3 title, the 5-foot-7 attacking midfielder was an catalyst for the offense, scoring the first two goals of her career. She also contributed a penalty kick to help propel Williams to a shootout victory over William Smith in the national quarterfinals.
Williams capped a 21-1-2 season with a 1-0 win over Washington University of St. Louis in the NCAA Division 3 championship game Saturday night in Kansas City.
"Mai is incredibly competitive and selfless. Combine those attributes and you have a special leader,'' said Williams coach Michelyne Pinard. "She starts our attack, she's played almost every position for us and she's a complete player.''
Mitsuyama has been an All-NESCAC, All-Region and East Region Scholar All-America first-team selection.
Last year, she recorded a career high six assists, helping Williams win a school-record 22 games and advance to the national championship game for the first time.
A soccer and ice hockey standout at Natick High, the 21-year-old psychology and Japanese major has been active at Williams as a junior advisor to first-year students and Senior Class Marshal. Her brother Rei, a Natick High graduate, was an All-North Coast first-team soccer midfielder at Kenyon College, from where he graduated last spring.
Q. How satisfying was it to score on a penalty kick against William Smith after losing a year ago in the national final to Lynchburg on PKs?
A. We put in a tremendous amount of practice on PKs especially after losing that way in the postseason. And it was an honor for me to take the first PK against William Smith and to be able to control the situation and execute the kick.
Q. Can you describe what it meant to get back to the final four this season?
A. It felt better because after last season we had a target on our backs. Our team motto is ``Earn it. Own it.'' It means that yes, we're very talented, but we had to work hard and put in the effort to go as far as we have.''
Q. How did your brother influence you as an athlete?
A. He's 15 months older than me and I always wanted to do everything Rei did. So we were friendly competitors in soccer, lacrosse, basketball and ice hockey and it really helped me going up against a bigger, stronger and faster player like him. It made me mentally tougher and even more of a competitor.
Q. What did you do over the summer?
A. I stayed on campus to work as a research assistant with Amie Hane, (cq) one of my psychology professors. I also had access to the weight room at the gym and trained and played soccer with four of my teammates.
Q. Who was your favorite teacher at Natick High School and why?
A. AP Physics with Joel Bradford. (cq) It was a small class and we had petitioned to add it to the curriculum. Mr. Bradford utilized hands-on demonstrations to explain concepts. He was animated and engaged which made me excited to learn.
Q. What was your reaction to being elected team captain?
A. We all voted after last season and coach emailed the team with the result. This team inspired me so much that to have them vote for me to lead them and put their trust in me is an unbelievable honor to this day.
Q. As a junior, you played on the first Natick High girls' hockey team since 2003 to qualify for the state tournament. How special was that accomplishment?
A. Very special. That achievement stood out because of how much we improved as a team to accomplish that goal. My best friend today, Allie Lucenta, (cq) was my high school hockey teammate so it's a great memory for both of us.
Q. Did you ever consider playing ice hockey beyond high school?
A. I did. Hockey is a completely different sport from soccer and gave me another sport to focus on and another outlet. It actually was a small part of my reason to attend Williams but after my freshman soccer season here I decided to focus on my academics rather than try out for hockey. I still skate for fun at the college rink.
For full interview, go to bostonglobe.com/west