Lindsey Williams ’05 isn’t one to waste any time.
Before a raucous crowd of over 1,200 people at the Soccer-Lacrosse stadium for last season’s men’s soccer opener against Harvard, Yale head coach Brian Tompkins summoned Williams off the bench to enter his first collegiate contest.
Within minutes, Williams had already taken his first shot and scored his first goal.
The Elis lost the game 4-2, but one line on the box score stood out. Williams: two shots, two goals.
“It was one of my favorite games I’ve ever played, and the reason was because I was very nervous and I’d never been that nervous for a game before,” Williams said. “To put up a performances like I did was something I thought I could do and wanted to do for a very long time. It was a big moment to see that I could take my game to the next level.”
Several games later, Williams had been promoted to starter, and the Elis responded with only one loss in their first eight games.
Williams’ talent on the field was not an unexpected development for Tompkins.
“We really thought that with his raw speed and his agility and quickness that he was a guy that could develop into a very effective [Division I] player,” Tompkins said. “What we didn’t realize was that he would come in and make such an immediate impact. He is extremely quick and he is extremely determined and he’s tough as nails too and that’s what characterizes him.”
It was not until Williams went down with an ankle injury that it became obvious how important he was to the team. Of the Bulldogs’ final nine games, Williams missed four and played limited minutes off the bench in the other five. Meanwhile, the Elis nose-dived, finishing the season with a meager 1-8 record.
Despite playing in only 13 games last year, Williams earned honorable mention All-Ivy honors for his contributions of three goals and an assist.
“The injury was pretty hard because I wanted to come back and I think I might have come back a little too early and re-injured myself again,” Williams said. “It was really frustrating to go through a whole season of losing and not being able to help out.”
But this year, a now-healthy Williams has certainly been able to do his share.
With six goals and two assists in ten games, the forward from Columbus, Ohio, leads the Bulldogs in scoring and has been named Ivy League Player of the Week this season as well as being given Honor Roll mention once.
It should come as no surprise that Williams has done so well for the Bulldogs. In high school, where he played soccer and basketball at the Columbus Academy, the forward was the Ohio Division III Player of the Year as well as a first-team All-District and All-State selection. He said that he made the decision to come to Yale because of its academic reputation but also because he really liked Tompkins and the rest of the team while on his recruiting visit.
“He came in as a bit of a mystery man,” Tompkins said. “He’s gone from mystery man to being a dependable and very effective goal scorer. He’s still learning the game and is working on timing of his runs and the angles of his runs but he loves to score goals and he’s got a good knack for finishing his chances when he’s in the penalty area.”
Midfielder Justin Burton ’04, who plays on the front line with Williams, noted that it is his teammates’ speed that is one of his most dangerous weapons.
“He’s quick, which makes him hard to handle and he’s very talented when he’s on the ball,” Burton said. “He also uses his speed to help us pressure teams defensively. He’s gotten better since last year, and I’m sure he’ll continue to do well this year and in the future.”
For Williams, the main distinction between this season and his rookie campaign is the way in which he approaches each game.
“I was watching this thing on Tiger Woods and he was talking about how he focuses on every shot he takes,” Williams said. “I kind of apply that to my game a little bit. I think my freshman year I took it a little for granted. Sometimes I wasn’t completely focused for every game, and that’s one of the things I’ve changed this year: focusing on everything and thinking about what I need to do for our team to win.”
And he has, on more than one occasion, done just that. This season, Williams produced two-goal games against Vanderbilt and Cornell to propel the Elis to 3-1 and 2-0 wins, respectively.
Williams’ penchant for scoring is remarkable, and he leads the team with a .400 shots on goal average.
“He’s the kind of guy that draws attention to himself by scoring goals and not by being overly demonstrative and not by being loud and overt,” Tompkins said. “He doesn’t seek the spotlight; the spotlight seems to follow him, and that’s a great quality to have.”