This past Saturday, the Springfield College women’s soccer team’s success was recognized when three of their seniors – Vicky DiNatale, Ashley Carresi and Nina Vital – were selected to play in the New England Women’s Intercollegiate Soccer Association’s Senior Bowl, held at Merrimack College.
Vital did not play in the game, but the Pride were represented by DiNatale and Carresi, as the two took the field alongside seniors from all divisions that were selected by coaches who are part of NEWISA.
Although only three of the seniors from the team were recognized for their efforts and selected to play in the Senior Bowl, the senior class for the women’s soccer team will be remembered at Springfield College for much more than that.
“This class will be remembered as people that were committed to driving this program forward,” commented head coach John Gibson. “That’s what they wanted to do. We were somewhat unlucky with achieving our goals, but we got stronger and stronger as the season went on and I think that the underclassmen that will be here next year will remember their commitment and drive and take on the responsibility of carrying the program forward themselves.”
DiNatale, a senior captain, was selected to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Continental Tire NCAA Women’s Soccer Division III All-America Third Team. Being the second straight season that DiNatale was chosen as an All-American, the native of Weymouth, Mass. made her mark in the Springfield College record books, becoming the first two-time All-American since 1992.
“As a kid, it was always my dream to make it to the Olympics,” commented DiNatale. “As I got older and started to realize that probably wouldn’t come true, I told myself that I wanted to be an All-American in college. It feels great. I feel accomplished.”
This season, DiNatale started all 22 of the Pride’s matches, and anchored a defensive “back four” that only allowed opponents to score 17 goals all season. The senior also was a solid contributor on offense, tallying two of her eight career goals this season, including a pair of game-winning goals.
As for Carresi, the senior from Billerica, Mass. started 21 of 22 games for the Pride this season and netted three goals and three assists. Carresi was great all season, but especially in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Tournament in which she scored two goals, including the game-winning goal in the semi-final against Wheaton. She also played extremely well in the NEWMAC Championship game against MIT.
Over the course of her four-year career in maroon and white, Carresi played in 68 games, including every game since the beginning of her sophomore year.
“This year, Ashley was just great all the way through,” said Gibson. “She should have been recognized for some of her work in the NEWMAC Tournament. She strikes the ball so hard.”
Vital, a local product from Ludlow, Mass., was one of the strongest forwards for the Pride ever since transferring after her freshman year from Western New England University. Despite fighting injuries over the course of her career at Springfield, Vital still finished at the top of the leader board with 12 points, which came from her six goals.
In 43 games played with Springfield, Vital netted 17 goals and five assists.
“She is a very crafty forward,” stated Gibson. “The ball sticks with her. She has quick feet and can finish. If she could have stayed healthy for the past two years, who knows what she could have accomplished.”
Lauren Muser came to Springfield College in the spring of 2012 from the University of Hartford, and seemed to fit right in with the Pride. Gaining respect from her teammates in her first season with Springfield, Muser was selected as a captain for her senior season.
Playing left back as a part of the stout Springfield defense, Muser played in 19 of 22 games this past season.
“We moved Lauren to left back this year and she was very happy and a big part of our strong defensive unit this season,” said Gibson. “She is so hard-working, so committed, she gets forward so well. [She is a] good leader and great role model.”
Much of the success that the Springfield College women’s soccer team had this season could not have been accomplished without the help of their role players, the players that come off the bench and provide energy to the team.
For Springfield, seniors Kim Rasmussen, Karly Barrett, Sara Dalton, Breena Salwocki and Brittany Samson did just that.
Rasmussen, coming off a season-ending injury just a year ago, battled back to be able to play her final season for the Pride. The senior from Berlin, Conn. did just that when she posted four goals in 21 games played.
Barrett, hailing from Sparta, N.J., finished the season with one goal and one assist, playing in 17 games in her final season. Salwocki was the team’s energy, playing a significant role in all 22 games for the Pride, and even tacking on a goal against Clark.
Samson, another local product from Chicopee, Mass., played in 17 games this season and scored a goal.
“Britt is very quick, she is two-footed, she is very hard on herself but she can strike a ball nice,” said Gibson. “When she is on, she can beat people, get inside and shoot.”
Dalton is the only member of the group that is not a senior academically. Dalton, a student in the Sport Management graduate program, came back for a fifth year of playing after tearing her ACL in the preseason prior to her junior season. The injury forced her to miss the entire junior season. After a strong senior season, her teammates elected her as a captain because of her ability to lead.
“Sara is so well respected by the rest of the group,” said Gibson. “She stayed positive and was the leader that we needed her to be. She is in some ways even more important than someone on the field. She really helped drive the group forward.”
As a class, the seniors of the women’s soccer team at Springfield College traveled to the NCAA Tournament every year they were here, most recently losing to Amherst College 1-0 in the first round just one month ago.
Throughout their four years, this class posted an accumulative record of 56-19-8, and it is safe to say that this class will be remembered as one of the best classes to ever come through the women’s soccer program at Springfield College.