Assistant Sports Editor
Vicky DiNatale has been the centre-back of a stout Springfield defense that has only allowed 15 goals in 19 games this season. The junior from Weymouth, Mass. had a stellar NEWMAC Tournament helping her team recapture the championship. Her efforts were rewarded by being named the Most Outstanding Player. In Saturday’s semi-final matchup with Babson, DiNatale aided in a shutout 1-0 victory. The win hoisted Springfield to Sunday’s championship game against Wheaton. In the NEWMAC Championship game, DiNatale was called upon for her offensive ability when freshman Jessica Miller was tripped up inside the box. Coach John Gibson pointed to his star defender to take the penalty kick, and DiNatale responded by blasting a shot into the bottom right hand corner, giving the Pride a 1-0 edge on Babson. DiNatale and the Pride will look to continue their success in the NCAA Tournament when they face Cortland State this Saturday.
How does it feel to win your second NEWMAC Championship here at Springfield College?
It felt amazing to be able to win my second NEWMAC Championship. I mean winning this NEWMAC title is what drives us when we start in the spring, when we train all summer into preseason; it’s what is always pushing us to want to get better.
Were you expecting to be the Most Outstanding Player of the NEWMAC Tournament? How did it feel to win?
I was definitely not expecting to be the Most Outstanding Player, and I think it actually took me a second to realize I had won it, but it honestly felt unbelievable to win.
What will you and your team be focusing on in the NCAA Tournament?
Going into the NCAA Tournament after doing so well in the past couple weeks will definitely give us the confidence that we need, but I think we are just looking to take one game at a time and to give our all for each game.
How has your team been able to be so successful given the amount of injuries that have occurred this season?
I think we are successful, because not only do we play for each other, but we play together as one unit when we are on the field. [We] are always supporting each other on and off the field and push each other, so we play to our potential.
Ever since taking over the position of starting goalkeeper for the Pride, freshman Billy Schmid has excelled. In the past six games for Springfield, Schmid has posted a 1.15 goals against average to compliment two shutouts. His first shutout came against the nationally-ranked Babson Beavers, where the Pride and Babson ended the game in a stalemate 0-0 draw. The first year from Wethersfield, Conn. posted his second shutout in Saturday’s NEWMAC semi-final victory over the second-seeded Coast Guard. In the match, Schmid was excellent, making four saves in the match to keep the Bears off the scoreboard. The performance was described as “his best performance of his young career” by his head coach, Steffen Seibert. The post-season debut for Schmid carried his team into the NEWMAC Championship game in which they would face the MIT Engineers. The Pride lost this bout 2-0.
How does it feel to be such an important part of the men’s soccer team as a freshman?
It’s a great feeling. It’s my responsibility to keep everyone on the field organized, especially my back four. Coming in as a freshman, it was a big responsibility, but I was always up for the challenge. The positive attitude everyone had really pushed me to do my best.
What do you feel are the best aspects of your game?
I feel the best aspects of my game would be the advantages that come with my size. I’m well below the average height for a goalkeeper. One advantage I have as a smaller goalkeeper is my speed. Both my sprinting speed and my lateral speed help me do the best that I am capable of.
How have Chris Walton and Brett Bascom helped your game out this season?
Chris and Brett have helped more than I can put into words. Every drill was taken very seriously, and we really worked hard on improving the most we could. They really push me to do my best, and that helped me out along the way.
What aspects of your game will you be focusing on this offseason?
During the offseason I will be focusing on improving as much as I can. The team will be doing a lot of offseason lifting, so an increase in strength is always a goal. I also plan on doing my best to to continuously improve my technique-based skills. I will be doing my best to improve my footwork and agility this offseason, making sure I use my size to my advantage. This will be the first year that I will be almost completely on my own for the offseason. During my high school years, I played in multiple winter leagues and also spring premier leagues to keep in shape. This offseason, I plan on using my personal time to concentrate on improving my game as much as possible.