Coming off of a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Tournament championship, the Bridgewater State University women’s soccer team ran into a powerhouse in Middlebury College in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
Middlebury had their way with the Lady Bears, scoring early and often en route to a 5-0 win.
The loss puts an end to Bridgewater State’s season, but capturing a MASCAC Tournament title and just having the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament was more than enough to deem this season a success.
“We had this really great opportunity to be a part of the NCAA Tournament,” said senior midfielder and captain Kate Nasuti. “Again, it’s just really cool to just be involved because in my four years we haven’t been here so I have never had this experience before.”
With the loss, the Lady Bears will say goodbye to some players who were not only instrumental in the championship season, but played key roles in establishing Bridgewater State within the MASCAC.
Nasuti and senior goaltender and captain Kerry Condon, along with fellow senior teammates Olivia Creonte, Erica Jonasson, Caley McClendon, Katie Johnson, and Megan O’Leary all played their final game in a Bears’ uniform against Middlebury.
For Nasuti, a starter since her freshman season, leaving the Lady Bears behind will be especially tough.
“I couldn’t have asked it to end any other way,” Nasuti said. “We won MASCACs and that’s all I wanted this year was to win because I had never won before. I’m sad, but we achieved what we wanted to, so it’s nice.”
Jonasson, the leading scorer on this year’s team with 16 goals, will also say goodbye to the Lady Bears as she played for Bridgewater State for two seasons after transferring from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
“This is just a dream come true for me,” Jonasson said. “I’ve played at two schools now, and I have never even made it this far, so this honestly means so much.”
The 5-0 loss is not the way the seniors or the rest of the Lady Bears wanted this season to end. Bridgewater State was able to hang tough for the first 30 minutes of the game, but then Middlebury showed their superiority.
Despite losing to the 13th ranked team in the country, the experience gained for the younger core group of players will help them for next season.
“I don’t think when you’re a freshman or a sophomore, you don’t realize how quick the time comes,” Jonasson said. “They just really need to take in every moment for what it is and how lucky they are to keep playing because four years go by fast and all of a sudden it’s going to be over. And these are really the best times of our lives right now.”
Even though they are losing key additions from this year’s team, the Lady Bears will be one of the favorites to win the MASCAC title and return to the NCAA Tournament next season.
Next year, All-MASCAC selections and sophomore forward Mackenzie Hatfield and sophomore defender MaryRose Griffin will lead Bridgewater State.
Greg Dudek is The Comment’s Editor-In-Chief. Follow him on Twitter at gdudek10 or email him at email@example.com.