Women’s Soccer Wins Second Consecutive Northeast Conference Title


George Attwood, Social Media Editor

Central Connecticut women’s soccer is Northeast Conference Champions once more, defeating Fairleigh Dickinson University 1-0 to defend the title. After winning the championship in 2018, the Blue Devils are now back-to-back champions.

The win was the team’s 10th NEC Championship total and their 8th under head coach Mick D’Arcy. The championship was yet another strong home showing for the Blue Devils, who finish the season with an 8-0-1 home record.

D’Arcy was elated with how his side overcame adversity at the start of the year to make sure they had a chance to play for the championship.

“It’s a fantastic feeling. The back-to-back is special for the players who were [here] for both, but each team each year is a different identity each team kind of sets its own path,” D’Arcy said. “They worked hard for this and we knew if we could get it back here on campus, we’d have a great chance. We had a stutter at the beginning but then went on a fantastic run. The odds were against us hosting after the first couple games, but seven wins in a row to get it back here was great.”

The Blue Devils started the championship weekend against Sacred Heart in the first NEC Tournament semi-finals. The game was played in windy conditions with temperatures in the low 30’s.

Central beat the Pioneers 3-1 with junior Erica Bardes posted the second multi-goal game of her career in the victory, scoring the first and third goals of the game for CCSU.

Bardes’ second goal was created by NEC midfielder of the year, Roma McLaughlin. Despite not playing in the previous three games, McLaughlin started the second half and made an instant impact. Her pass across the Pioneers penalty box was struck first time by Bardes into the top corner.

D’Arcy emphasized the quality that McLaughlin has and how she can impact the game.

“I think we all saw today in those 10-15 minutes she really influenced the game,” D’Arcy said. “She got a couple of shots but her movement off the ball was terrific and she had a big impact for a cameo appearance.”

In the final, the Blue Devils came up against the Knights, the team they had lost to earlier in the season 1-0 in double overtime.

Being a final, the game was scrappy, with Central unable to play with their usual fluidity. The game was a hard-fought midfield battle, with Brianna Williams and Yo Tachibana running the offense for the Blue Devils.

The only goal of the final was scored by McLaughlin in the 17th minute giving Central the win. The score took her tally of goals to 10 on the season.

Junior Williams and Tachibana were named to the NEC All-Tournament Team, with their teammates senior Allyson O’Rourke, sophomore Taylor Smith. Along with this, Tachibana was named Tournament Most Valuable Player; she spoke of how hard the team has worked to be back in the final.

“This is all we’ve been working for since we won the tournament last year, we always knew we wanted to come back here, at home and win this tournament,” Tachibana said. “MVP is great but I think all my teammates deserve this, it’s not just me. This team is special because we all have each others back. It’s not like there’s one special player, we all work hard for each other.”

“I think today we did a really good job of fighting through it and ended up getting the goal. At the start of the season, we had problems keeping the lead, so it says a lot about this team and how over the season, we’ve found a way to win games that are tight.”

McLaughlin  also talked about what makes her such an impactful player on the pitch, crediting it to her tendency “to add urgency and get everything from everyone which bring out the best in other people.”

Junior Tess Atkinson, has been injured during the season. During recent games, she has been building her fitness back up and when she is on the pitch she hustles around and tries to make an impact on the team.

“Before every game, we tell each other that hard work wins games. We write quotes on our board and today we wrote, play like a champion,” Atkinson said. “Before the game, we spoke about what the quotes mean to us and I said that to me it means leaving it all out on the field and if you leave it all on the field then you’ll get the result that you want. So today we left it all out on the field, it was battle, it was aggressive at times we need to keep our composure and we needed to work hard and that’s what we did and we got the result we wanted.

Atkinson recalled a story that D’Arcy said to the team that became the team’s motivation moving forward.

“When we lost to FDU the first time, Mick said you can kiss hosting goodbye and then when we won at Sacred Heart, our captain Shauney was like well Mick now look what we’ve done,” Atkinson said. “The whole year we’ve been saying take it one game at a time, work as hard as you can. You can rest and relax afterwards but as long as we won out, which we did, which we are so thankful for the result that we got today which is why we are so excited today.”

Atkinson said how much it means to the team to have everyone at our games.

“After this many people at our games, having the other teams at our games means so much to us because we try to be a vocal presence at other peoples games and them screaming on the other side of the pitch so much I couldn’t hear my coach was amazing and it is such a surreal feeling,” Atkinson said. “I just can’t describe how happy I am today.”

Having won the NEC, the Blue Devils will now face fourth-seeded Rutgers in the NCAA tournament. CCSU opened up their season against the Scarlet Knights and lost 2-1 in OT.