Assistant Sports Editor
The Springfield College women’s soccer season has come to a close. Last Saturday, the Pride fell at the feet of the Cortland State Red Dragons in the first round of the NCAA Tournament 1-0 at Cozzens Field on the campus of William Smith College.
Cortland freshman Jessica McFadden played a ball in from the right side of the field, landing it at the feet of Amanda Margolis. The sophomore collected the pass and buried a shot into the left side of the cage past Pride goalkeeper Erin Greenstein. Margolis’ fourth goal of the season proved to be the game winner, ending a rather successful season for the Pride.
“If you said that out of the six strikers on your team the top three strikers are not going to be playing the last three games of the season, and you’re going to win the conference regular season title, the NEWMAC tournament and make it to the NCAAs, I would have been surprised. We achieved more than what was expected of us, and I am proud of all the girls,” coach John Gibson said regarding his 13th season on the Pride’s bench.
Springfield finished the season with an overall record of 13-5-2. An 8-1 NEWMAC record gave the Pride their third consecutive regular season title, as well as leading them to their third NEWMAC Championship in four years.
Greenstein proved to be the backbone of a strong Springfield defense in the 2012 season, setting a school record along the way. In 20 games, Greenstein and the Pride held opponents to only 16 goals, recording seven shutouts. The seven shutouts gave Greenstein 29 in her career, which surpassed the previous record of 24 set by Sue Jenney during the 2005-2008 seasons.
“It feels cool,” said Greenstein about the record. “It was something I really wanted to accomplish coming into this season, so I was really happy that I did that, and I thought it was cool too since I have only been starting since my sophomore year.”
As successful as Springfield was this season, they were forced to overcome many adversities along the way. Injuries to the top three strikers on the depth chart forced Gibson to make serious coaching decisions early on in the season.
In the fifth game of the season against WNEU, junior forward Kim Rasmussen went down with a broken bone in her leg that ended her season. A few weeks later, senior forward Erica Donnelly suffered a season-ending concussion and throughout all 20 games leading goal scorer Nina Vital was a game-time decision.
Although creating adversity, these injuries gave younger, less-experienced players a chance to shine. Freshmen Krissy Cicalis, Jessica Miller, Nicole Fowler and Victoria Fryzel were all starters at the closing point of the season.
“Realistically with all the injuries we had, looking back, our team overachieved this season,” said Gibson. “We started the season with one freshman starting, and finished the game with four freshmen starting, partly because they developed, and partly because they were thrown in because of injury.”
Fowler, Gibson’s top recruit coming into the season, was able to make an immediate impact for the Pride. Out of 20 games this season, the freshman started 15, providing Springfield with six goals and three assists.
“As the year went on I progressed,” said Fowler of her first year for the maroon and white. “In the beginning of the year, I was really nervous going on to the field. I was so scared to make a mistake. Being a freshman, I thought there was a lot of pressure, but then as I got more warmed up, I was fine. I thought I did pretty well.”
Along with Fowler’s six goals came four game-winning goals against Clark, WPI, MIT and Babson. These wins allowed the Pride to finish at the top of the NEWMAC come the season’s end.
“We thought that Nicole was a good player for us this year,” said Gibson of his freshman striker. “She scored four game-winning goals, which is great for a freshman.”
Including Fowler, the Pride will return a solid core of starters from this year’s team next fall. From the bunch, junior centre-back Vicky DiNatale will prove to be the team’s top returner on the defensive side of the ball.
DiNatale, along with sophomore centre-back Kelly Haines and junior centre-midfielder Courtney Letourneau combined with Greenstein to create what Gibson called a “very strong diamond in the center of our field.”
“Erin always has our backs no matter what,” said DiNatale about her goalie. “She is so vocal. She directs everyone and is such a good leader. In the back, I know she will save me if anything goes wrong. She is such an asset to our defense.”