Hi, everyone! The soccer season has just wrapped up, and I wanted to give y’all a little recap.
For starters, it’s important to know that the season is basically broken up into three mini seasons:
- Preseason: where we show up two weeks before school starts in order to start training for games.
- Regular season: where we play all of our official games on the calendar.
- Postseason: where we play in our conference tournament and compete for a spot in the National Collegiate Athletic Association: the organization that runs sports events for colleges in the U.S. tournament.
The regular season was a huge success! In our conference, the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference , we won 10 games and only lost one. Now, let me walk you through the play-by-play for how our postseason went.
The NEWMAC Tournament
Our first tournament is the conference championship, which is three games over the span of a week.
In the NEWMAC quarterfinals against Clark, we win 6-0. Two days later is the semifinals, where we snag a solid 6-1 W against Springfield and move onto the championship game.
In the championship, we play the only NEWMAC team we lost to the whole season: Babson. With the first warm day in a while, the sun shining, and a score to settle, it is the perfect day for soccer. We start the game like a crack of lightning, and you can instantly tell what type of game it will be. After a game of bicycle kicks, the most chef’s kiss tiki taka you’ve ever seen, and a lot of screaming and cheering from the bench, we end up winning the game 5-0!
By the end of the game, we are lifting a big silver trophy on our home field and are the official 2023 Conference Champions! We have a saying on our team: “til’ the net breaks,” which refers to how relentless we are to goal, and how the only way we’ll stop scoring goals is if we literally break the net.
Let’s just say, after scoring 17 goals in three games (!!!), that we broke the net this week.
The NCAA Tournament
The NCAA tournament is a nationwide tournament, with only 64 of the best D3 women’s soccer teams making the cut. The bracket selection is live streamed by the NCAA and is how every team learns that if made the NCAA tournament. Because we won our conference tournament, we get an automatic spot — but for others, whether or not their name will appear on the bracket is a mystery.
The teams that made the tournament are announced one at a time, with a live commentator saying a bit about that teams’ season and showing some of their goal highlights. When our name finally appears on the bracket, we cheer not only because we are in the tournament, but because we are hosting the first round. That means the first two games of the tournament will be played on our home turf.
Round of 64: only 64 teams in the country left playing.
We play our first team of the tournament: College of Mount Saint Vincent. With a nice 3-1 win, we smoothly advance to the next round.
Round of 32: only 32 teams in the country left playing.
The very next day is our second game of the tournament. We play University of Southern Maine. Maybe it’s the sore legs from the day before, but we go down a goal in the first 6 minutes of the game and we don’t score for the rest of the half. If we don’t score, our season will end.
For some reason, however, it never crosses my mind that we won’t pull through and come back — and I am proven right, because in the second half we come out guns blazing and put 4 goals in the back of the net. The bench is erupting with each goal scored, our fan section is cheering, my voice is gone after screaming so much, and one of our freshmen gets so excited after a goal she goes to high five the rest of us and face plants instead.
We’ve survived the first weekend, and something about how good we’re playing makes me think we can win the whole thing.
Sweet 16: only 16 teams in the country left playing.
One week later, we are back at it. We had driven 7 hours from MIT to Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, where we are playing John Carroll. Everything is on the line this game, and you can feel just how badly every single one of us wants to win. The Elite Eight is just one game away.
Right from the first whistle, we are relentless. We are out of the gates immediately, putting so much pressure on them that they start subbing out their defense in the first 10 minutes. We rip shot after beautiful shot, and they bounce off posts, off the goalie’s fingertips, or just outside the goal.
By half time, it’s still 0-0. There is no question that we are dominating, but we need to score.
Early in the second half, John Carroll scores. It’s a bit disheartening, but I know that we can win. Every single player on our roster is a stud, and what we do best is breaking the net and scoring.
As the clock winds down, it is a bit shocking to see that we still haven’t scored. Even though we had 30 shots on goal, the final whistle blows, and we lose 0-1 to John Carroll. It doesn’t feel real that, just like that, our season is over.
This game was particularly brutal because we knew that we had what it took to win. It just somehow didn’t happen. Later that day, my dad tells me that soccer isn’t always fair. I think he’s right. Sometimes this is just the way sports go.
Regardless of how it ended, it was an amazing game, season, and experience, and not everyone can say they were one of the last 16 teams playing in the U.S. We drove home on the bus, and there were tears and disappointment, sure, but also so much team spirit and love. After singing our hearts out to Olivia Rodrigo and having a runway show where we strutted down the bus aisle, it really hit home that I can always count on our team to have fun and support each other through tough times.
So, that was our 2023 season! We finished ranked #14 in the nation, had an astounding 21 wins, and were Conference Champs. Looking forward to breaking the net next season and bringing you all along with me!
Here are some pics of little, wholesome moments:
- National Collegiate Athletic Association: the organization that runs sports events for colleges in the U.S. back to text ↑
- New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference back to text ↑