The Pride is making its second appearance in the NCAA Division III Championship in the past three years after earning an at-large bid into the 60-team field. Springfield earned an automatic bid in 2005 after it topped Wheaton in penalty kicks in its conference tournament championship. The Pride went on to defeat Castleton State, 3-0, before falling to Oneonta State, 3-1, in the second round. This will be just the Pride’s second-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Springfield earned the second seed in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Tournament but was upset by the No. 7 seed, Wellesley College, in penalty kicks. The Pride enters the NCAA Tournament with a 15-2-1 record. It had won six in a row, including 11 of its last 12 contests before the NEWMAC Tourney. The Pride’s 15 wins are the second-most in program history, as the 1992 squad registered 17 wins. Springfield went unbeaten at home this season with a 11-0-1 record. It allowed just four goals at home all season, three coming against Wellesley in the NEWMAC First Round. The Pride has faced just two other teams in the Tournament field as it lost to conference-foe Wheaton, 2-0, on October 2. The winner of Wednesday afternoon's game will travel to take on the undefeated Williams Ephs (16-0) on Saturday, November 2. One of the Pride's two losses this season came at Williams by a score of 4-0.
Senior forward Nicole Hanewich (Smithfield, R.I.) has recorded one of the finest offensive seasons in Springfield College history as she has recorded 35 points off 15 goals and five assists. Her 15 goals are the highest single-season goal total since Angel Schofield netted 19 in 1992. Her 35 points are the most since Kathleen Terrenzio recorded 34 in 1997. Caitlin Sawczuk (Plainville, Conn.) has complemented Hanewich on the Pride attack as she has tallied six goals and three assists this year.
In the midfield, Lauren Peltier (Agawam, Mass.) and Jillian Pereira (East Providence, R.I.) control the pace of the game for the Pride. Peltier has recorded six goals and a pair of assists this season and leads the team with four game-winning goals. Pereira has found the back of the net on three occasions and has added three assists.
A rock-solid defense that has posted 13 shutouts this season is anchored by Delaney Cantrall (Santa Paula, Calif.) and Kayla Thibeault (Lebanon, Conn.). A smart and crafty defender, Cantrall has recorded three goals this season at the center back position and has orchestrated a tremendous defensive season for Springfield. Thibeault is one of the most decorated athletes on the team as the shutdown defender was a NEWMAC All-Conference First Team, the D3kicks.com All-New England First Team, and (NSCAA)/adidas NCAA Division III All-New England Region Second Team selection last season. She has chipped in with three goals and four assists this year.
Sue Jenney (Agawam, Mass.) has minded the net for the Pride this season and has allowed just 11 goals in 18 games. Her .70 goals against average ranks 49th in all of Division III.
Head Coach John Gibson has guided Springfield to its only two NCAA Division III Championship appearances. In eight seasons, Gibson has registered a record 93-51-2 (.637). Even more impressive, in the past three seasons, which included a pair of trips to the NCAA Championship, Gibson’s squads have gone an incredible 43-13-4, good enough for a gaudy .750 winning percentage. A two-time recipient of the NEWMAC Coach of the Year, Gibson also was honored as National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas Division III New England Regional Coach of the Year after bringing the Pride to its first-ever NCAA Division III Tournament in 2005.