Photo by Charlie Quigg '09
An unlikely pair has made for great teammates and best friends for four years.
The Tall and Short of It:
Piper Crowell '07 & Lesley Pruzansky '07
By Tanner D Lipsett, special to Amherst College Sports Information
September 20, 2006
Laurel and Hardy, Mutt and Jeff, Laverne and Shirley. Somehow the pairing of Piper and Pruzy seems to fit right in. One is a 5’10” goalie, while the other is a 5’ midfielder. Amherst College women’s soccer tri-captains Piper Crowell ‘07 and Lesley Pruzansky ’07 couldn’t be more different, but when it comes down to it, the two of them are inseparable.
Crowell grew up in San Rafael, Calif., just 65 miles from Pruzansky’s hometown of Saratoga, Calif., right on the opposite ends of the San Francisco Bay Area, yet the two traveled more than 3,700 miles to Amherst, Mass. to meet each other. The two were both budding first-year talents on the Jeffs’ powerhouse women’s soccer team and were quick to make their presences felt as Crowell became the team’s starting goalkeeper, while Pruzansky notched her first career goal in grand fashion, netting the game-winning score in a 2-1 victory at Eastern Connecticut State University. They were both full-time starters by the middle of the season as the Jeffs reeled off an 11-game unbeaten streak and advanced all the way to the NCAA Division III Tournament Regional Finals. Even more strange about this success was a comedic pre-game ritual that the pair began once they both found themselves in the starting lineup. After the team break at the start of each game, little Pruzansky would jump into Crowell’s oustretched arms and wrap herself around her for a big hug before each sprinted to her respective position.
“We’re not really sure how it started,” said Crowell. “I think I was just so excited about starting and pumped up for the game that I just jumped on her,” added Pruzanksy. She continued, “It’s our good luck thing.” Four years later, the two still practice the display of friendship and excitement before every game and it’s brought them and their team plenty of luck. They’ve helped Amherst to a 29-9-11 mark in their first three years, including a NESCAC Championship and an undefeated conference season. Crowell boasts an amazing 0.75 career goals against average and 257 saves in more than 4,300 minutes in front of the cage. Pruzansky, meanwhile, has 20 career points on six goals and eight assists; in 2005 she was named National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas First-Team All-Region, First-Team All-NESCAC and Third-Team ESPN The Magazine Women's Soccer Academic All-District.
However, no matter how many times over the past three years their coaches, teammates, fans and opponents have seen the ritual, no one can do anything but shake their heads at how tiny Pruzansky appears wrapped up in the big goalie gloves of Crowell. Even funnier, despite their drastic differences in appearance, their teammates often call one by the other’s name during games and practice. “It’s kind of ridiculous that anybody confuses the two, but it happens,” said senior teammate and close friend Jenny Muller. “I guess they just get associated as a pair so much that to call one by the other’s name isn’t that far of a stretch.”
Crowell and Pruzansky were roommates for two years at Amherst. Now as seniors with single rooms, they still live right next door to each other. The only real separation for them over the past three years was last spring when Crowell traveled to American University in Cairo, Egypt, for a study-abroad program, while Pruzansky attended the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia. “It was horrible being away from each other,” they said. Since their return to the states the two have seen each other plenty, both at home in California and traveling together to New York and New Jersey.
Pruzansky is an economics and psychology double major looking to attend law school next year. Crowell has studied political science and Asian languages and civilizations, with a concentration in the Middle East, and aspirations of a career in international affairs. But their main plan is to stay together. “While Pruzy is looking at different law schools, she’s also finding out if they have graduate programs for me as well,” said Crowell. They’re hoping to wind up in New York City, but will obviously find success wherever they go.
The two receive high marks from their coaches, as well. As Amherst women’s soccer head coach Jen Hughes said, “It has been a pleasure and an inspiration watching Piper and Pruz grow as people, students and athletes through their experiences at Amherst College, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with them over the years. On the soccer field, they are both gifted athletes and have matured into tremendous leaders. Piper brings a rare intensity, and Pruz brings an unparalleled work ethic to the field, and I look forward to helping them reach their potential as teammates and individuals in their final season representing Amherst.”
“It doesn't matter where we are or what we are doing, we always have the most amazing time,” said Pruzansky. “She always knows what I’m really thinking, and how to cheer me up when I'm sad. I know that she is going to be a lifelong friend, and I feel truly fortunate to have met her.”
Crowell continued, “It's funny how dissimilar people think Pruz and I are. And I see these differences too. However, it is our unique characteristics that have made us such good friends. She knows me so well and has always been there to challenge me or comfort me when I’ve needed it, even if I haven't wanted it. Moreover, we just have a blast together.”
Tall and short, black and white, high and low. The bottom line is that opposites need each other, and Crowell and Pruzansky are legitimate proof of that. With the help of each other and their teammates, they hope they can return to the top of the NESCAC field and the NCAA Tournament.