After pulling off the upset to win the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Tournament championship, the Bridgewater State University men’s soccer team was shutout, 3-0, by Amherst College in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Playing against Amherst, the second ranked team in the country, was no easy task. With the win, Amherst improved to 16-0-2 and stretched their winning streak to 38 games.
“Making it to the NCAA tournament was a great accomplishment for our team,” said senior forward Colin Neri. “It was tough to play Amherst in the first round, but winning the MASCAC conference is a big success, being only the fourth time Bridgewater has ever won.”
The Bears traded chances with Amherst to start off the game. In the 14th minute, Neri had a shot on net that went wide left and moments later, junior forward Steve McAvoy got off a shot but was denied by Amherst’s goaltender.
From there on out, it was all Amherst. The Jeffs notched a goal in the 18th minute and scored again just 53 seconds later for a 2-0 lead.
The Bears were unable to produce much offense for the rest of the game against Amherst’s tough defense and only produced five shots on goal.
Although they did not advance in the NCAA tournament, the Bears’ were happy to just gain the experience and winning their first MASCAC championship since 2007 is still a highlight.
“To win a title with this group of guys feels incredible,” said senior forward and captain Craig Shadduck. “To work this hard since August and get a reward is great, especially senior year.”
Having a record of 10-8-3 and a MASCAC trophy to end a college career isn’t too bad for the Bears’ five seniors.
Shadduck, Neri, Dave Wilson, Matt Bagley, and Luke Samperi, were all crucial components of what made this year’s team so successful.
Few believed the Bears would even make it to the playoffs, let alone win the MASCAC championship, but their resiliency and hard-working attitude drove them to play at an extremely high level.
“I believe people counted us out at the beginning of the season,” Neri said. “With only four returning seniors it was a big challenge for our young team to make it as far as we did. It was a great ride for myself and the other seniors to end our careers her at BSU by finally becoming MASCAC champions.”
With a core group of senior players leaving, it will be up to the underclassmen on the team to help get the Bears back to a MASCAC championship and to an NCAA Tournament appearance next season.
The Bears will look to second team All-MASCAC selections, sophomore midfielder Kolin Campbell and sophomore defender Nicholas Keddie, to help lead the Bears in the 2014 campaign.
Matt Melia is a Comment staff writer. Email him at email@example.com.