This season has been incredible. We had already far exceeded anyone’s expectations for us - but winning the title (and just three games) would truly validate all that hard work. Sure there were some speed bumps along the way, the brutal loss to Bryant on Rudd or the tie to St. Louis ending our winning streak, but overall we reached the A-10 championships and we knew that once we had the date in Dayton anything could happen.
Traveling is always a trying process for the UMass team and rarely do we miss a jog to our gate in Hartford to make our flight, (or is it that we are always trying to incorporate some fitness?) The team is usually last to board and occupies the majority of the back of the plane. I can’t help but feel bad for the innocent passengers surrounding us. Our pillow pets take up half the row, our bags smell like they are filled with dirty soccer gear and we aren’t the quietest group of girls. So there’s never a dull moment en-route to our destination and that has helped make the frequent plane rides all the more bearable.
I was extremely confident in our chances going into the quarterfinals against St. Bonaventure. I knew they were a good team but I just couldn’t picture us losing. For this reason it didn’t hit me until I was standing outside the center circle with the whistle about to blow that it could be our last game. This didn’t settle well with me and I knew no one else was ready to go home early. The way we came out and played proved this to be true, and we advanced to the semis with a pretty dominant 3-1 win.
The game against La Salle was another story. We had lost to them on our home field, and had been outplayed, despite taking them to OT. They were undefeated and the number 1 seed. Not many people gave us a chance. I still knew we could win, but it was going to take all we had. We scored first and early, and it was absolutely indescribable. La Salle seemed shocked. We had led 1-0 at home as well, but this just felt different. Granted we still had 88 minutes to go, but that one goal cushion felt good (just like it did against BU and Dartmouth!!). We held them off for the rest of the game despite being on defense the majority of the second half. I really can’t describe the feeling I had after the final whistle blew and I ran to celebrate with my teammates - but if you played competitive sports, and won a HUGE game… you know it! There is no better feeling than a big win, especially one that no one outside the U Mass women’s soccer family believed we could accomplish.
UMass Women’s Soccer has a successful history, we all know it and are proud of that legacy, but more importantly, UMass Women’s soccer now has a promising future. As our coach told us after the game, this team has revived the program and put UMass back on the soccer map. We have started a new tradition of winning - one that we plan on continuing. We still have things to accomplish, including an A-10 title and a deep run in the NCAA tournament. Those aren’t easy goals, and we will have to work hard all off-season to achieve them. However, we owe this current group of seniors (and all the alumni) that type of success in the future. I will keep hoping for an at-large NCAA Bid, but if it doesn’t come, I know we can all be proud of our 2011 season.