Sports Women's Sports

Springfield College women’s soccer celebrates its 40th anniversary

By Hayden Choate

Over the years one of the most successful teams on campus has been the Springfield College women’s soccer team. 

This season, the team celebrates its 40th anniversary as a varsity team. 

Back in the fall of 1980, Springfield College announced it would be bringing three intercollegiate women’s sports to campus, soccer, golf and cross country. Springfield had started bringing women’s sports to the college in 1963 and by 1980 there were about 2,300 undergraduates, half of whom were athletes.

The first ever Springfield College women’s soccer game was held on September 17th, 1980 at home against Westfield State University. The Pride played 11 games that season, where they compiled an impressive record of 9-2. 

Herb Zettl, who became a history professor at Springfield College in 1969, was the school’s first women’s soccer coach. Zettl coached the team from 1980-84, 1986-1997 putting together a record of 156-106-21. 

In the first three seasons of the program, Zettl led the team to a record of 32-9-2 and two NEWISA Division II-III Championships. Just three years into its existence, the team was recognized nationally. 

On October 29th, 1982 a list of the top 20 National women’s soccer teams was released. Springfield College was number eleven on the list. 

Prior to the inception of the team as a varsity sport, women’s soccer was a club team on campus. Zettl, coached the team in 1979 before the college introduced the sport as a new team the following year, appointing him the head coaching job.

Since then, the Springfield College women’s soccer team has had consistent success. This includes winning the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship in 1984, 1992, 2016 and 2017, were the Northeast-10 Champions in 1985, 1992 and co-champions in 1987 and 1989, then NEWMAC Champions in 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

The team has an all-time record of 435-254-66 over the 40 seasons. 

In addition to Zettl, the team has had four other head coaches. Keith Bugbee (1985), Lori McLaren (1998), Martha Brousseau (1999), and current head coach John Gibson (2000-present). 

Gibson, now in his 21st season as the head coach, has a record of 261-114-43.

“It’s an honor, it’s a pleasure,” Gibson said. 

Gibson, who is originally from Wales, is a physical education professor in addition to being the head coach of the team for over two decades. 

“I’ve had more than half the seasons with this program now,” Gibson said. 

Gibson is grateful for his time here and has seen the program change a lot since he first got here.

“It’s a privilege to work here and the program is strong,” Gibson said. “I think we’ve made progress over the years.”  

The first weekend in October of this year was Homecoming at Springfield College and an opportunity for all women’s soccer alumni to come back for a celebration of the team’s 40th season in history. The celebration included an alumni game, a meet and greet with the current team and the opening of the new Tony DiCicco ‘70 soccer exhibit in the Springfield College museum. 

In the team’s most recent game, which was a double-overtime win over Coast Guard, the 1980 team was honored on the field during halftime. This included coach Zettl and six members of the original Springfield College women’s soccer team.

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