Amid yet another strong season, the Springfield College women’s soccer team has once again been among the top teams in the region and has their goals set high going into their regular season finale at WPI on Saturday.
Checking in at 11-4-1 overall and 7-2 in the NEWMAC, the Pride sit firmly in second place in a crowded conference pool. With a tie on Tuesday against WPI, MIT officially clinched the NEWMAC regular season title and will be the No. 1 seed for the tournament.
However, the next four seeds are where things get murky. With the win last night over Wheaton, the Pride cleared things up just a bit for themselves as the win went a long way in helping them secure the No. 2 seed in the NEWMAC tournament.
Where Could Springfield Land?
After MIT the standings with record and point total are as follows: 2. Springfield 7-2 (21 points); 3. Emerson (6-2-1 19 points); 4. WPI 5-2-2 (17 points); 5. Coast Guard 5-3-1 (16 points).
With one game remaining in the regular season, WPI and Coast Guard can’t catch Springfield for second place. However WPI could jump as high as third and Coast Guard could also jump to fourth. While Springfield is in the driver’s seat for the second spot, it is still not fully guaranteed.
For Springfield a lot rests on the result in their match Saturday when they travel to take on WPI. If the Pride earn a draw that will put their record at 7-2-1 for 22 points. The big advantage for the Pride is holding the tiebreaker over Emerson, by a 2-1 win over them earlier in the season.
In this scenario even if Emerson wins its finale over MIT, they would hold the same conference record as the Pride, although Springfield still takes the No. 2 seed because of the tiebreaker.
What could also happen, is the Pride staying in second even if they lose. If both the Pride and Lions lose, Springfield would still secure the No. 2 seed. What would then happen, is WPI would jump into third place, having a 20-19 points advantage over Emerson.
The worst case scenario is that the Pride lose and Emerson wins, which would bump Springfield out of second. The Lions would finish 7-2-1 with 22 points and the Pride would sit at 7-3 with 21 points.
So, what does this all mean? Bottom line, for the Pride to guarantee the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, is finish with a draw or better on Saturday. If they lose, then Emerson would also have to lose to hold that spot.
Conference Tournament Reformatting
In years past, the difference between the No. 2 seed and the No. 3 seed meant virtually nothing as it pertains to postseason scheduling. The two teams would host their quarterfinals games, and then travel to play their semifinal games at the site of the No. 1 seed on the Saturday before the final.
This year the conference tournament format has changed. Instead of the No. 1 seed hosting both semifinal games, the highest seeded team in each individual match will host. If Springfield clinches the No. 2 seed on Saturday, they will host a quarterfinal game next Tuesday and a potential semifinal game on Thursday. Last year, they would have had to travel to the No. 1 seed to play their semifinal game.
One of the question marks of the team headed into the season was replacing the entire offensive unit from last year. One of the newcomers, who has really burst onto the scene is Kaleigh Dale.
The freshmen midfielder has scored 13 goals and tallied two assists. Her goal total this year is tied for fifth place on the single season record board with Alison Passante, who had 13 in 2000. Dale is six goals away from the record. She may not break it this Saturday, but it just shows how impressive her freshman campaign has been and how much she has impacted the team.
Something else to watch is the goalie situation moving forward. Both seniors Jackie Davis and Izzy Inglese have gotten significant playing time, and it will be interesting to see if head coach John Gibson picks one and rides them through the playoff run.
What Makes the Pride a Legitimate Threat in the NEWMAC Tournament
With Emerson needing nothing short of a miracle, the Pride are in a great position headed into the NEWMAC tournament. They have put together another exceptional campaign under Gibson and they seemed poised to take their regular season success to the postseason. What separates the Pride is for most of the season, is that they have been able to mix a combination of exceptional offense with equally exceptional defense.
In an offense led by Dale and senior Amanda Wright, the Pride have also gotten production from the likes of Sara Swetland and Mackenzie Luiz. Swetland, who has four goals and eight assists, is two assists shy of tying the single season record.
Defensively the Pride are led by the veteran group Aly Morell, Rachel Feliu, Nikki Kerr, Chrissy Conley and Kinsey Colby, who has seen significant time this season. At their best points in the season the Pride combined there potentially lethal offense with a suffocating defense that limited their opponents to next to nothing. If they can find this combination, this is a team that can go toe to toe with any team in the conference.
When Will They Play?
Who the Pride will play, will also depend on Saturday as the teams battling to qualify have virtually nothing separating them. One potential matchup however is Babson who, despite having their struggles this season, handed Springfield one of their two NEWMAC losses.
Regardless, if Springfield is the No. 2 or No. 3 seed, the Pri will host a quarterfinal on Tuesday. If they win that as a No. 2 seed, the Pride will host the semifinals on Thursday.
Photo courtesy of Jack Margaros