Springfield College women’s soccer goalie Ciara Boucher made the diving save that would help continue such a successful streak. It wasn’t about shutting teams out or stringing together a number of wins; it was about championships.
On Saturday Nov. 8 at MIT, Boucher’s dive to the right not only made the save in penalty kicks but gave the Pride the win over Babson and their fourth straight NEWMAC championship.
Coincidentally, Springfield went through penalty kicks in every round of the NEWMAC tournament. Julia Cormier helped put away the quarterfinal matchup against WPI by scoring the game-winning penalty shot.
The clutch performers kept coming as Jess Miller was the hero in the semifinals against MIT. Miller’s shot in the net sent the Pride to the final against Babson which led to Boucher’s heroics.
In 2012 and 2013, Springfield won the NEWMAC Championships by the result of penalty kicks.
Springfield is now headed to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight season, and the 7th time in the last eight seasons. They head to Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania to take on Montclair State on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The Pride have pushed until the very end all season. Their ability to continue to fight through the penalty kicks throughout the NEWMAC tournament shows the makeup of this team.
“One word that describes our team is relentless, and I would say that we’ve been relentless through this whole situation” said senior Nicole Fowler.
Along with Fowler, fellow seniors Miller, Krissy Cicalis, Brooke Hattinger, and Mariah Ferarra, have experienced all four-straight NEWMAC titles since their freshmen year.
The Pride have been able to rebuild a dynasty, making them prominently known in the region and now in the nation. Head coach John Gibson has been a major part of that. Ever since the London, England native took over in 2000, the Pride have worked their way towards success in a number of ways.
Gibson and Springfield got their first taste of the NCAA Tournament at the Division III level in 2005 when they beat Castleton State 3-0 at home in front of the Springfield faithful . That year proved to be more of a successful season as Gibson was named the NEWMAC coach of the year. The following season, the maroon and white fought their way to the ECAC championship.
Springfield’s 16-3-1 record in 2007 allowed them to beat Husson at home 3-0 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament before falling to Williams 1-0 in the second round.
The 2008 season featured a Springfield team that was ranked in the top 25 for the majority of the year. Gibson helped lead the Pride to a 16-4-2 record, won the NEWMAC championship, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championships, and then was named the NEWMAC coach of the year.
Resiliency was a clear characteristic with Gibson and his 2010 squad as they started off the season 2-3. Moving forward, they then finished at 15-5, and marked the first time in the program’s Division III history that they earned the NEWMAC regular season and tournament title in the same season.
Besides all of the great teams Gibson has been a part of, there have been several individual players that have stood out. In 2010, Courtney Price was the first All-American from the program to be selected since Angel Schofield-Ayres in 1992. Jackie Moscardelli was on the Division III All-America first team in 2011.
All of the great players and teams Gibson has coached thus far have allowed him to pile up a pretty considerable amount of victories; 200 and counting. Gibson reached the highly-coveted milestone of 200 wins on Oct. 17 when the Pride defeated Emerson College 3-1.
“It’s nice for me, nice for the program, but I think the way we have been able to go in the 16 years is more pleasing to me” said Gibson.
The accomplishment that Gibson achieved has been noticed by players that have been with him the last four years.
“It was an incredible moment” said Fowler. “He’s put his heart and soul into this team for 16 years, definitely has paid off.”
Gibson is now the winningest coach in the program’s history with 202 victories and it doesn’t seem like he will be slowing down any time soon.
Springfield has been able to compile at least 11 victories in each season since 2008.
In the span of 35 years, the women’s soccer program has created a long list of storied-accomplishments, but more importantly, a historical tradition.
The man who started it all, Herb Zettl, went from being known as a history professor to one of the most successful coaches the Alden Street campus has had; an institution where it is considered a mecca for coaching.
Gibson has attributed part of his success to Zettl, calling him “a giant”. Well, the “giant” sees his fellow European friend as not just a successful coach but a man he deeply respects.
“As women’s soccer programs have grown over the years at both the regional and national levels and have become more competitive, I am pleased that the Springfield College program, under Coach Gibson, continues to gain recognition at both these levels as one of the best and highly respected soccer programs,” said Zettl. “Springfield College is very fortunate to have Coach Gibson.”
Coaching is a generally tough task at most times and especially hard when trying to build another dynasty. Zettl was able to start the program from the ground up and compiled a historical 17 years.
Three years later, Gibson stepped in this program is already a well-established success once again. One from Hungary, another from England, one started it, and the other is still riding high.
Through all of the success both coaches have had, staying humble is a characteristic that centers on Zettl and most certainly Gibson.
“We’re here because of what people have done before, people that have committed in this program every year,” said Gibson. “It is a privilege, really, to be able to do this for a living.”