Sports Women's Sports

After falling in the ECAC Springfield women’s soccer already looks to next season

Despite falling in the ECAC Tournament @SCPride_WSoccer looks to next season. By @ksaxe98
Kevin Saxe @ksaxe98 As the final buzzer sounded on Sunday, the Springfield College women’s soccer team ended a season of great achievement, but also one where the Pride fell short of reaching the NCAA tournament and defending their ECAC crown. This season saw the Pride go 15-6-1, have multiple individual records set while five players earned All-NEWMAC honors. What Went Right When you talk about seniors, usually they’re looked to lead the team both on and off the field. That’s exactly what the Pride got in a class of seniors that included Jackie Davis, Aly Morell, Rachel Feliu, Hope MacDonald, Amanda Wright and Izzy Inglese. For the Pride, Amanda Wright was a stalwart up front this year, scoring ten goals and adding two assists while starting every game of the year. On the backline Feliu, MacDonald and Morell provided leadership and guidance for a back line looking to provide stability in front of previously unproven goalies. Those unproven goalies (Inglese and Davis) combined to start 21 of 22 games and finished with a 14-6-1 combined, providing stability that the position needed after losing record-setting goalie Ciara Boucher to graduation in 2017. Not only did the senior class play a large role in the success of the Pride, but the underclassmen also played a huge role in this team, as they rewrote the record books. The first of these records to fall came from sophomore midfielder Sara Swetland. After missing most of her freshmen season with a knee injury, Swetland rebounded for a record breaking season, breaking the record for most assists in a single season (12), with the previous record being 10. The second player who broke a record was freshman standout Kaleigh Dale. In the first round of the ECAC tournament, she recorded a hat trick to push her goal total for the season to 20, which broke the single-season record of 19. The Pride also accrued five all-conference selections. Kaleigh Dale won Rookie of the Year and garnered first-team honors. Chrissy Conley and Swetland also joined Dale on the first team. A pair of seniors in Wright and Feliu wrapped up their careers with second team honors. Despite losing a successful senior class, the Pride will return a solid core of players, led by the likes of Nikki Kerr and Chrissy Conley on the backline, as well as Heather Jennato. In the forward group the Pride will see the return of Dale, Swetland, and Mackenzie Luiz who when healthy was an impact player for the Pride this year. What Went Wrong By the numbers it was a very successful season, however an inability to get results against ranked opponents hurt Springfield’s resume. Quite often the Pride would hang with these teams, but they were never able to take the next step to beat them. The Pride would lose to No. 5 Williams (1-0), No. 21 MIT twice (3-1 and 2-1(OT)), and No. 14 Amherst (2-0). The other issue for the Pride was too often the offense would go on extended cold spells. The defense was able to cover with their solid play, but too often even in games they would win, the lack of offensive production kept opposing teams in games. In close losses, it just felt like the offense couldn’t come through when needed and didn’t create enough quality chances. The last thing that went wrong for the Pride was also some bad luck. In the second half of the NEWMAC championship game with the rain past, they had to play defense straight into the wind. In the first half there were extended stretches where the Pride looked to be the better team. However, the wind gave them fits trying to move the ball into the wind and forced them into having to defend their goal for the majority of the second half. If the wind doesn’t pick up that way, there is reason to believe based on the first half, Springfield could’ve come out on top. What’s in the Future Despite a disappointing end to the season that ended in an ECAC quarterfinal defeat the Pride’s future is still bright. With a strong returning core of players, and a presumed solid class of freshmen, head coach John Gibson should have his team ready to go to chase that elusive NEWMAC title and NCAA berth.
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