Opinion Sports Columns

Jon Santer Goes Around the NEWMAC in One Day

By Jon Santer
Assistant Sports Editor

As I hopped in my sleek, black 2000 Pontiac Bonneville, I took a deep breath and prepared myself for what was shaping up to be a long, busy day packed with Springfield College athletics. I plugged in my handy Garmin GPS system and typed in Babson College and was given the option to “start my trip.” With excitement, I pressed down on the button, started my car and pulled out of the Senior Suites parking lot.

Upon arriving at Babson, I could already hear “Die Young” by Ke$ha playing over the loudspeakers as the Springfield field hockey team warmed up prior to taking on the top-seeded Babson Beavers. As I paid my $1 to enter the game and took my seat in the stands of MacDowell Field, I had the feeling that this game was going to be exciting.

Springfield had a strong start to the game. Just 15 minutes into the contest, Katie Gill buried a shot past Babson goalkeeper Kayla Florence to give the Pride a 1-0 advantage. Following suit, Kelly Gallo found the back of the net 15 minutes later on a ball sent in from the win by senior Kayla Sokol. Gill, a freshman, and Gallo, a junior, finished the game with five out of the Pride’s six goals, leading Springfield to an upset 6-3 victory over the Beavers.

Following the game, I made my descent down the bleachers to catch up with Springfield coach Melissa Sharpe to find out her opinion on how the production from Gallo, Gill and senior Meghan McHugh aided in the victory.

“All three of them played really well today,” said Sharpe. “They’re a freshman, junior and a senior, and so it takes a little time to gel, but they’ve reached that point now, and they’re just an unstoppable unit. They’re fun to watch too.”

As soon as Sharpe and I wrapped up our interview, I hustled to the opposite side of the bleachers to catch the start of the Springfield men’s soccer game against Coast Guard. This was shaping up to be a close contest as well.

Earlier in the season, the Pride dropped the match to the Bears 2-1 in double overtime. It was a much different story this time around. Much like the “Bushmen” have been doing to complement their successful 7-3-2 run to finish the season, the Pride started the game off strong, with a goal in the first 20 minutes.

In the 19th minute, Michael Fowler corralled a free kick sent in from centreback Drew Vanasse and passed it over to Kevin Nowak. The sophomore striker lined up and blew a shot past Coast Guard goalkeeper Richie Burns to give the Pride a 1-0 advantage.

Later on in the 71st minute, Fowler was tripped up by Burns inside the Coast Guard box, resulting in a penalty kick. Freshman Ryan McAdoo lined up and snuck the ball inside the right post to put the Pride up 2-0. The Pride would be advancing to play the MIT Engineers on Sunday in the NEWMAC Championship Game.

After the game, I caught up with goaltender Billy Schmid.

“I think we did a really good job. For the most part, it was really organized, and what we pride ourselves on is being the most organized team in the conference. The hard work, video sessions and practice have showed, and it came out on the field and helped put up the zero.”

Following the interview, I hastily walked to my car, for it was 3:33 p.m., and I needed to make my way to Wellesley College for the women’s volleyball game that started at 3:30. Upon reaching the vintage Wellesley campus, I parked in the first spot I could find and sprinted up the stairs with my notebook and tape recorder in hand.

Upon walking into Wellesley’s gym, I noticed that I showed up in the break between the first and second games. My eyes shot straight to the scoreboard, which showed that the Pride dropped the first set 29-27, telling me that this game was going to be another close one. I took my seat in the rickety wooden bleachers on the far side of the gym, the Springfield side of the gym, where there were only a few people.

Springfield went on to lose the second set 25-21 before bouncing back to take the third set 25-18. On the verge of losing, coach Moira Long’s team came out with a valiant effort in the fourth set, only to fall 25-21. With the victory, MIT advanced to Sunday’s championship game with Wellesley College.

As the heartbroken Pride gathered following the game, I snuck into position behind their bench, hoping to get a few comments from Long before heading back to Springfield.

“I think we did a good job. We struggled blocking. MIT did an awesome job with their offense. They ran a slide, so we really had a hard time blocking it,” Long said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our players. We have overcome a lot of things this season, and the fact that they come together makes me really proud of them.”

With a long day under my belt and the deep bellows of hunger rumbling around in my stomach, I knew that it was time to grab a sandwich from Subway and make the trek back to Springfield to start banging away on the keyboard  and write some stories. It was a successful day for Springfield, for two-thirds of the teams participating upset a higher seed to advance to Championship Sunday.

Although carrying confidence and motivation from their victories, the Pride representatives were not as successful at Babson on Sunday. The men’s soccer team dropped a 2-0 decision to the Engineers to end their roller coaster ride of a season. As for field hockey, the lady Engineers took the NEWMAC title with a 6-3 victory, despite two goals from super-athlete Kelly Gallo.

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