Soccer teams make history with NCAA bids
For the first time ever, both of Connecticut College’s soccer teams have qualified for the NCAA tournament in the same season. It’s the third time in four years the women’s team has qualified, and the first time for the men's team since 1995.
The women (12-3-1) earned one of 20 Pool C berths following a strong fall campaign in which the squad finished a program-best second in the NESCAC standings, while also facing a challenging non-conference slate. The Camels have four wins against regionally-ranked opponents–Middlebury, Hamilton, Wheaton and Amherst–and were ranked third in the two most recent New England polls, which are used to determine selections and seeding in the tournament.
“We are extremely honored to represent Conn in the national tournament, and I couldn’t be more proud of this group of women,” said co-captain Livi Block ’18. “We’ve worked hard all season to earn this bid, and to be back in this tournament for the third time is such an incredible feeling. We can’t wait to make more history.”
Head Coach Norm Riker said the process of building the women’s team and creating a culture of competitiveness has been helped in large part by the nine senior players who have used their experience to keep the entire team focused.
“We learned that we can’t take anything for granted, and the leadership coming from those seniors has cemented an attitude that every game matters," Riker said. “Over the past few years, we’ve learned how to create the formula not only to compete, but to win.” Riker said.
The women's team will travel to Baltimore on Saturday, Nov. 11, to face Wilkes University at John’s Hopkins in the first round of the tournament.
The men’s team (9-3-4), which earned an at-large berth, will also play Nov. 11, taking on Rochester University in Oneonta, New York.
The team has relied on a unique blend of veterans and youth to put together one of its most successful seasons in recent memory. Reacting to the news that the team made the tournament, Assistant Coach Michael Kovach thanked the College and the fans for their support, and credited the team for their relentless dedication.
“We wouldn’t have gotten here without genuine buy-in from every player on this team,” Kovach said.
Fran Shields, the Katherine Wenk Christoffers ’45 Director of Athletics and chair of the Physical Education Department, praised both soccer programs for what he described as a long-term commitment to building strong teams.
“This is really a tribute to the great coaching and the amazing job both teams have done in terms of recruiting,” Shields said. “This is very exciting for our student-athletes and for the entire campus community.”