Women’s Soccer Ends Storybook Season

The New Paltz Women's Soccer Team were knocked out of the NCAA Div. III Tournament by No. 1 Messiah College
The New Paltz Women's Soccer Team were knocked out of the NCAA Div. III Tournament by No. 1 Messiah College

The book has closed on the SUNY New Paltz Women’s Soccer Team’s fall 2011 season.

The Lady Hawks completed their run in the NCAA Div. III Tournament after a 1-0 loss to No. 1 Messiah College. A week before the loss to the No. 1 seed, the Hawks defeated No. 11 Lynchburg college after tying 0-0 in regulation and advancing on penalty kicks. The team then went on to beat Rowan University with a 2-1 overtime victory.

“It was amazing,” Head Coach Colleen Bruley said. “I think after the Fredonia game the confidence kept building and building and every time they stepped on the field they knew they were going to do the best that we can.”

The team earned their spot in the tournament after defeating SUNYAC No. 1 seed SUNY Cortland with a final score of 1-0. After getting an opportunity to rest for a couple of days, the team was back to work once they received word their first opponent would be Lynchburg, who compiled a record of 19-2-1 before facing the Hawks.

“To get ready for this tournament we continued to work hard in practice every day and we studied the other team we were playing by watching videos, so we understood how they played,” third-year forward Shelby Kondelka said.

Fourth-year Captain Shannon Cobb said keeping up team chemistry during practice was an important factor in the success of the team during the tournament.

“The most important things for us was to stay active and consistent with getting touches on the ball and to have fun,” Cobb said. “We were really proud of our success throughout the season and we knew that remembering the joy of actually being together and playing the game was the important thing for us at that point.”

Players said the atmosphere of an NCAA game and the underdog mentality they had through the tournament helped to make them successful against opponents who were statistically better throughout the season.

“It didn’t really hit me that we were in the NCAAs until we stepped on the field to play in Lynchburg,” Kondelka said.  “We were the underdogs going into every game we played, so we knew that we had nothing to lose. The atmosphere is unlike any game I have ever played in. You know that this is the biggest game you have ever played in and it was an amazing feeling to play in something that big.”

While not expecting to win against Lynchburg, Bruley said the team’s defense kept them competitive and made her believe they had a chance.

“The back four and our goalkeeper really stepped their game up in that game,” Bruley said. “As the minutes ticked by and we weren’t giving up goals, they gained more confidence and were determined not to give up a goal in that game. Once we got to penalty kicks we knew that we had a good chance of winning that game.”

With the 0-0 tie with Lynchburg, third-year Goalkeeper Stephanie Vega recorded her 13 shutout of the season. Vega’s performance not only impressed Bruley, but rival fans commended her performance as well.

“She (Vega) had a great year all year, but she made some incredible saves at Lynchburg and put herself on the map in Div. III soccer,” Bruley said. “When we were at Messiah, someone from Messiah said that she was the best Div. III goalkeeper they had ever seen.”

Cobb said team chemistry was key for the Lady Hawks this season and that she couldn’t be more impressed by the team’s performance.

“Seeing us progress throughout the year was amazing,” Cobb said. “I was surprised by us every time we set foot on the field. Just when I thought I could not possibly be happier with or more proud of our team and our accomplishments I was surprised. The progression throughout the year was so amazing that the NCAA tournament was the icing on the cake.”


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