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Springfield College Athletes of the Week: Football’s Matt Berni and Field Hockey’s Jill MacDonald

By: Alex Thomas
Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Springfield College Athletics
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College Athletics

The Springfield College football team opened up their season with a battle against cross-town rival Western New England in what would be a back-and-forth battle. The Pride, down 10 at one point, mounted a comeback and ended up winning the first-ever match between the two sides. The game was sealed when Western New England was driving for the tie late, and linebacker Matt Berni picked off a pass and took it back for the pick six. Berni, a sophomore linebacker from Scarsdale, N.Y. was chosen to be this weeks “Male Athlete of the Week.”


Q: Matt, you guys were able to get a big come-from-behind win on Saturday on the road against Western New England University. How important was that victory for you guys, and how much of a confidence booster is it for you to come from behind?

A: Being the first time in history Springfield and WNEC played each other, it was a must win for us. So many of our coaches and alums would have given anything to be able to play the same guys talking smack to them at parties on weekends, so we also played for them. It’s a great thing to be able to say that you beat your city rival, but in reality, as a defense, we did not play anywhere close to our potential. We took this game as our free- bee and are going to improve in every aspect of the game in order to win the Liberty League. 

Q: So you guys are 1-0 already and have the home opener coming up on Saturday. What are the expectations for the team in the locker room this season, and what are your own personal expectations for the season?

A: As a team, we have one goal – to win the Liberty League. Every team in the conference wants to knock us off just as much as we want to knock them off. It will be a challenge, but I believe we have the potential to get a ring this season. My personal expectation is to do whatever I can to help the defense be the best it can possibly be. I’ll start by getting rid of the mental mistakes I made in Saturday’s game, and making the defense more stable and sound. Statistics wise, I keep my personal goals to myself. I’m really superstitious.

Q: I mentioned opening day coming up on Saturday, what kind of play can the fans expect from you guys on the field this year, especially on defense?

A: One thing I can promise on Saturday is that the fans will see all eleven defenders swarming the ball every single play. The no huddle offense we played last week left many of us completely winded, including myself, so Coach DeLong has been conditioning us more than usual in practice. I felt embarrassed of my lack of ability to hustle due to fatigue after watching the film from the WNEC game. You will not see me jogging to the ball anymore this season. You can hold me to that. 

Q: Lastly, big time pick six on Saturday for you. How awesome was it to seal the comeback for the team?

A: So far it was the biggest play in my career. I had a horrible first half, so I feel like I redeemed myself and proved to the coaches that I still had something in me. One of the greatest feelings in the world is being able to look at your teammates after a game, knowing you didn’t let them down. 


Photo Courtesy of Springfield College Athletics
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College Athletics

The Springfield College athletic season is underway, and both men’s and women’s teams are on the field representing the Pride. The Springfield College field hockey team kicked off their season this past weekend with the Zenaty Invitational on campus. The Pride lost a heartbreaker on Saturday, 3-2 in overtime to Brockport, but rebounded with a 3-1 win over Plymouth State a day later. Freshman Jill MacDonald made her debut with the team and was one of the stars for the Pride. She contributed on the score sheet in both games, and was a key part of the Pride’s attack.


Q: First off, congrats on the win over Plymouth State over the week and an overall good start to the season. You girls suffered a heart breaking OT win on Saturday, but overall how do you feel about the start to the year for the squad?

A: I feel great about the beginning of the year. Even though we started out with a tough loss we now know how much it sucks to lose which is pushing us even harder not feel that terrible feeling again and just continue to win. Every single person on the team has their own specific talents and when we mix that together on the field we become one powerful team. And everyone’s just great! I love the team!


Q: That all being said, what are the expectations for the team this year from inside the locker room?

A: Of course our major expectation is to win NEWMACs. I think that is every teams goal. But our specific focus no matter what is to put the team first. It’s a varsity sport so not everyone will get equal playing time but everyone deserves the equal amount of support from everyone else. If you’re dogging it on the field than you shouldn’t be on this team. Besides just the athletic part, we have very high expectations for the academic side as well as we are a very smart team.

Q: Being a freshman has to mean a bit of an adjustment period from the high school game to the college game. With that in mind, what are you hoping to accomplish personally this season on the field?

A: I think I personally have more adjusting to do than the normal fall athlete freshman. I had hip surgery last year so that took me out of my senior year of field hockey so it’s been awhile since I’ve played on an actual team. I’m still dealing with some post-surgery struggles with my hip and my back so one of my major goals is to get completely healthy for the next three years of my career here. But I also came in as a defender and have been getting some really good playing time as a midfielder. I would love to keep that but I truly just want to help the team in anyway I can whether that be on the field in a game or just at practice.

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