Women’s Soccer Falls in First Round

Ryan Jones, Editor-in-Chief

After winning its third consecutive Northeast Conference title, Central Connecticut women’s soccer was eliminated from the NCAA Women’s College Cup after a first round loss to South Florida.

The 3-0 loss in the tournament was the first of the season for the Blue Devils, who finish the year with a 7-1 record.

Neither team saw great scoring opportunities in the first half, but USF was still able to pepper CCSU goalkeeper Amanda McQuillan, putting up eight shots to Central’s one. With 4:25 left in the first half, Roma McLaughlin, two time NEC Midfielder of the Year, sent a pass into the box that set up Abbey Chase with a clean look at the goal. Her shot was saved by USF’s goalkeeper, however, keeping the game scoreless heading into the half.

Once the second half got underway, USF’s offense began to heat things up. Over a span of 12 minutes, the Bulls scored three goals. This was the first time all season that the Blue Devils had trailed in a match according to CCSU Athletics.

“We knew what to expect from them, then it was a case of would we be able to step up our game and play better than we have this year to match what they were able to do,” D’Arcy said. “I thought for long periods of the game we were able to contain them, but in the second half it got away from us. Over a ten minute span or so, the damage was done.”

Having exclusively played against fellow NEC opponents this season, the Blue Devils had not played many games in warmer weather. The tournament this year was played in North Carolina, a much warmer environment than the Blue Devils were accustomed to.

“It definitely played a role in it,” senior Erica Bardes said. “We were able to train two days here to try and acclimate a little to the weather but its definitely a challenge, especially playing an opponent that plays in this weather year round.”

Senior athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports last year. Out of the four seniors on the roster, D’Arcy said Bardes and Tess Atkinson will be returning for the fall.

CCSU women’s soccer has had some impressive seasons in its program’s history. Eleven NEC Championships only scratch the surface in describing the team’s dominance over the last two decades. Still, this year’s team still felt different than the rest.

“The bond that we had as a time was quite different from other years,” McLaughlin said.

The Blue Devils were a perfect 7-0 in the regular season and only allowed one goal, which came with their second string goalkeeper in the net. From an individual standpoint, CCSU swept the NEC awards, taking home Rookie of the Year (Kelly Brady), Offensive and Defensive Player of the year (Jenna Rae Covello and Brianna Williams, respectively), Goalkeeper of the Year (McQuillan), Coach of the Year (D’Arcy) and McLaughlin’s aforementioned award. This is the first time since 2006 that a team has won every single individual award.

This fall, the Blue Devils will be looking for their fourth consecutive title in what should be a more normal season. Somehow, four straight championships will not be a record for CCSU, having “been there, done that” from 2002-2005.