A fourth straight NEWMAC championship and the fifth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance are just a few of the accomplishments the Springfield College women’s soccer team made this season.
Being able to hold that NEWMAC trophy was not an easy task for the Pride after all. Their everlasting glory was the result of three-straight games consisting of overtime and penalty kicks.
It all started with the quarterfinal matchup at Brock-Affleck Field on November 3 with WPI. Junior Julia Cormier was considered the “hero” after she put the game-winning penalty kick in the net to defeat WPI 1-1 .
Springfield then said goodbye to Brock-Affleck Field after they learned they would be road warriors the rest of the way. The maroon and white took down tournament host MIT 2-2 in penalty kicks. This time around, co-captain Jess Miller knocked in the winning penalty kick to earn another game in the tournament.
November 8 was then known as judgement day for the fourth-seeded Pride as their highly-coveted streak of three NEWMAC titles was on the line against Babson. Springfield goalie Ciara Boucher made a save in penalty kicks that would secure the Pride’s impressive streak and earn another conference title. Babson’s Meghan Lee needed to put her penalty shot in the net to keep the Beavers alive, but Boucher dove to the right just in time to stop that hope.
The fourth consecutive NEWMAC championship is something that head coach John Gibson never thought would become a reality.
“When we won it four years ago, I thought ‘wow that’s great’,” said Gibson. “Then win it two years in a row it’s amazing, three years in a row was ridiculous and I didn’t even want to think about four.”
The title game appearance for the Pride also marked the eighth-straight time they have played in the NEWMAC championship.
Now that it has become a reality, Gibson and the rest of the team can cherish that impressive accomplishment forever and what comes along with it.
The NEWMAC champs earned themselves a spot in the Division III NCAA tournament. On Saturday November 14, Springfield traveled to Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania to take on Montclair State out of Montclair, NJ.
Springfield did lose 3-0, but the Pride is aware of what a special experience it is.
“It’s definitely disappointing to lose,” said Miller. “We would have loved to be able to win that game but we should try and stay thankful for what we did get out of it.”
The tournament appearance marked the fifth straight, and seven of the last eight years, the Pride made it to the NCAA tournament.
Gibson’s squad never would have accomplished what they have without overcoming obstacles along the way. October 20 is the date for a game that Gibson wishes he could forget. After the Pride outshot Mount Holyoke 35-0, the Lyons’ lone shot in overtime ended up giving them the 1-0 victory over Springfield.
It was a game that devastated the whole team, and it is a moment like that in any sport where most teams would hang their head for the rest of the season – but not this team.
Resiliency and relentless were the epitome of the Pride and their season. Springfield goalie Ciara Boucher misplayed the ball that would allow Mount Holyoke to score. But, that one mistake didn’t let that define her as resiliency easily overcame that.
Boucher was named the NEWMAC tournament’s most outstanding player after their championship win. The sophomore goalie finished fourth in the NEWMAC with a 0.88 goals against average.
Tournament championships quickly overlook a bad game and the makeup of the Pride has proven to go a long way.
“I think the whole experience really says a lot about our team,” said Miller. “I’m really proud of every girl on the team for being able to take that game and set it aside but still keeping it in the back of our heads to be as relentless as we were and come back and really prove everyone wrong.”
Along with Miller, Nicole Fowler and Brooke Hattinger were the senior leaders and captains of this team that featured a great amount of talent surrounding them.
Fowler led the team in points with 19 and finished third in the NEWMAC in assists with 7, while Miller was second on the team in points with 14.
Forwards Krissy Cicalis, Kimmy Quiles, and Amanda Calzolano all provided a strong attack on offense all season long along with midfielders Dakota Kelly and Julia Cormier.
Springfield was able to finish 11-6-5 overall, and battle back in the face of minor setbacks and turn the season into glory.
The successful season has allowed Gibson to look back on all that has happened.
“The (NEWMAC) tournament was the big thing this year, I think,” said Gibson. “Three sets of penalties, that’s amazing.”
Miller, Fowler, Hattinger, Cicalis, and Mariah Ferarra have been a part of all four of the NEWMAC championships and were a major reason to the makeup of the team.
“The senior’s character’s and personalities tended to color the whole thing,” said Gibson. “This was another great group of seniors.”
Miller touched on how grateful she is to have not only won the NEWMAC this year, but have won four with her fellow senior peers.
“There are no other people I would rather get to say I did it with,” said Miller. “As much as it’s absolutely heartbreaking to know it’s over, there’s nothing I could be more proud of then to win four NEWMAC championships as a group of best friends.”