PAT LONGOBARDI — Sports Writer
Looking back at one of the best seasons in school history, SCSU women’s soccer still felt a lot was left on the table to get them into the Division II NCAA Tournament.
After starting the season 7-0 and knocking on the door to holding a spot in the national rankings, the Owls finished the season 3-5-3 for an overall record of 10-5-3, 8-4-3 in the Northeast-10 Conference.
“They did a very good job,” head coach Adam Cohen said. “They helped put us in a position to do special things over the next few years. We use everything as a learning experience. The message is that we are very close, and we hope to sit here next year around the same time.”
SCSU finished their season after being eliminated by Stonehill, 3-2, in the quarterfinals of the Northeast-10 Conference tournament at home.
With Southern being one of the top teams in the conference from beginning to the end, three teams did advance to the NCAA tournament—Saint Rose, Merrimack and UMass-Lowell.
The last time the Owls came this close to a tournament berth was in 2008. The team finished at 12-5-2 and 9-3-2, but was denied a berth.
“The way the schedule was set up, we played top competition in the second half,” Cohen said. “We did enough to be in consideration for the NCAA tournament. We could have done better in the conference.”
SCSU also set several records over the course of the 2011 season.
Their scorching 7-0 start included seven consecutive shutouts, which tied the 2000 team for all-time school record of consecutive shutouts. Jacquelyn Fede, Southern’s goalkeeper and co-captain also set her own record as the school’s all-time single season record leader in shutouts (12).
Senior midfielder and co-captain, Alison Ditolla from Trumbull, Conn. said this was really an exciting year.
“I felt like I led the team in the correct direction on the field,” she said. “We lost in the first round, and it was pretty upsetting. We were all really close and really connected this season. It was a great season. It will help us on what to expect for years to come. It will always be a goal to be in the NCAA Tournament.”
Sophomore Suzane Pires led the team in points with 15 (six goals, three assists). Junior Lisamarie Tarchini was second with eight points (four goals).
Cohen said the team was very close this year and really helped put the school in a good position to continue their winning culture.
“This was one of the years where we are in a position to turn the corner,” he said. “It has a lot to do with the players. They bought in to the same values. I think we will be even better next year.”
“We played pretty well collectively,” first-year assistant coach Armand Dikranian said. “We were pretty close to what we wanted for the most part. It means a lot to myself (to be at SCSU) because there is history at the school. It carries a lot of value.”
The team will lose six players to graduation this year and leaving some key positions vacant, but Cohen said the future is looking bright.
“We have a lot of good players coming back and we have a large incoming class,” he said. “We need to have people that compete, enjoy playing. When you combine that with a strong work ethic, then you have winners.”