November 6, 2008
2008 SEASON ROUND-UP: WOMEN'S SOCCER FINISHES OFF INAUGURAL DIVISION I SEASON ON A HIGH NOTE
SMITHFIELD, RI- After becoming the first team at Bryant University to record a Division I victory, the Bryant women's soccer team finished off its inaugural Division I season by winning three of its final four contests, and going 4-2-1 over its final seven. After a long and difficult travel schedule, the Bulldogs finished off the year with a record of 5-9-3, including a perfect 2-0-1 versus Northeast Conference opponents.
After accepting a bid last spring to become members of the Northeast Conference starting in the 2012-2013 season, the women's soccer program had the honor of kicking off the year with the very first Division I contest for the entire school when they traveled to Northern Colorado back on August 22nd. Trailing 2-0 going into the 80th minute of play, Bryant received a spark from freshman Brooke Duchaney (Hampton Falls, N.H.) when she scored off a rebound to give the Bulldogs their first Division I goal, and cut the deficit to 2-1. Just three minutes later, junior Alex DiPippo (Shelton, Conn.) tied the game on a free kick off an assist by Sarah Donovan (Storrs, Conn.), as the game was sent into overtime. In the 105th minute of play, freshman forward Kaitlyn Hinck (Bow, N.H.) would make history for Bryant University, finding the back of the net and off a cross from Duchaney and giving the women's soccer program and the entire school its first Division I win, 3-2.
"We were very proud of the win over Northern Colorado, both for the program and for the school. We knew we had a chance that no other team at Bryant had, and we wanted to make a statement in our first game," said head coach Chris Flint.
This would be a season full of challenges for the Bulldogs, and it would be different than any other the players had ever been through. With no opportunity for postseason play, it can sometimes be difficult to find motivation. But that was not the case with this squad, or any other team at the school.
"The attitude of the team was outstanding. We took each opponent as a unique challenge and divided our schedule into different portions: Ivy League, Northeast Conference, America East, Big East. It was a great accomplishment to finish off our NEC schedule 2-0-1"
When it was all said and done, the Bulldogs' schedule breakdown looked like this:
|Colonial Athletic Association||0-1-0|
|United Soccer Conference||1-0-0|
|Freshman Kaitlyn Hinck led the team with six goals. www.dspics.com|
One of the major story lines of the season was the contributions of the underclass men. Well documented throughout the season, the freshman class was led by Kaitlyn Hinck, team leading goal (6) scorer and points leader (13). The six goals by Hinck were the most for a freshman since Diane Pascale had 10 in 2004. She also led the team with three game winning goals. Sarah Donovan led the team with five assists on the year and was second with 11 points. The sophomore tied a Bryant record with three assists in one game in a, 3-1, win over NJIT. Freshman Brooke Duchaney was third on the team in points, scoring three goals and two assists, good for eight points. Defender Steph Del Mistro (East Williston, N.Y.) was next on the list with seven points, putting home two goals and dishing out three assists. Also adding to the underclassmen scoring was defender Kalie Whitehouse (Braintree, Mass.), scoring her first career goal in a, 3-1, loss at Northeastern. All-in-all, the underclassmen accounted for 41 of the team's 55 total points.
"The freshman as a whole played very well. We had a number of injuries that set back some of our players but they have a lot of upside," said Flint.
As the season went on, the Bulldogs played every team tough, but struggled to scratch out wins. The team went through a nine game winless streak between August 24th and October 1st, but that was not without some very close losses, including a 3-2 loss at George Washington, and a 2-1 loss at Stony Brook. Stony Brook will be playing in the upcoming America East championship game.
Things would turn around for Bryant on Sunday, October 5th when they took down future NEC rival Wagner, 3-2. The win sparked a stretch run that saw the squad score three goals on three different occasions, and finishing off the year with back-to-back shutouts.
Flint commented, "Playing well and losing can only get you so far. It was great to see us string together a few wins at the end."
An aspect of this season that cannot be ignored is the impact of this senior class on the
|The seven Bulldog seniors won 50 games in a four year span. www.dspics.com|
Bulldog soccer program. A class that featured goalkeepers Jessica Clark (Barnstable, Mass.) and Jessica Neales (Swansea, Mass.), along with Danielle Malta (Bethel, Conn.), Jessica Conley (Salem, N.H.), Daisy Martinez (Eliot, Maine), Amy Orzechowski (Milford, Conn.) and Kristina Dionne (Raymond, N.H.).
Clark and Neales find themselves atop the record books in all different goalkeeper categories. Clark will end her career as the all-time leader in career goals against average (0.82), third in career wins (13), third in shutouts (10) and first in save percentage (.830). The Barnstable, Massachusetts native also broke the record for most saves in a game when she stopped 28 shots in a, 3-3, tie at Brown. Neales will finish second in career wins (29), first in career saves (155) and second in goals against average (0.95).
Defender Danielle Malta was one of just two Bulldogs to ever be named a First Team All-American and the second player in the history of the program to be named an Academic All-American. Since arriving on campus, Malta has played in 86 games, the second most in school history, while starting in all 86 and playing the most minutes of any Bulldog in the history of the program (6,317). She has garnered many different awards, including Northeast-10 first team all conference and Northeast-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2007.
Midfielder Amy Orzechowski was a second team all Northeast-10 selection in 2007. Orzechowski is right behind Malta in minutes played, ranking second on the Bryant all-time list with 4,920. She also finished third in games played with 85.
When it was all said and done, the group of seven seniors helped the Bryant soccer program win 50 games in their four years at the school. Coach Flint won his 100th career game with the program on senior day at Bulldog Stadium with a 1-0 win over Cornell.
"It was a nice milestone and great to achieve with this senior class. It is a testament to all the players who have come through the program. This senior class has won 50 games out of the 101 that I have been here for. That is a huge accomplishment."
Assistant coach Christina Maciel, a former player under Flint, discussed what the coach has done for the program in his nine year tenure.
|Head coach Chris Flint won his 100th game with the Bulldog women's soccer program this season. www.dspics.com|
"I have been here every year that Chris has. He has established a sense of pride in the program. There is an excitement and a sense of commitment that once you are a part of the program, you will always be a part of the program. He is the reason why the women's soccer program is where it is now."
Recruiting and preparation was a key to the success of the team at the Division II level, and Flint knows that this will continue to be the case at the Division I level but feels that he, his staff and his team is very well prepared.
"We had the benefit of playing in one of the best Division II conferences in the country by playing in the Northeast-10. We were already recruiting Division I caliber players. It has made the transition into Division I an easier one."
The Bulldogs will try to carry this experience into their second season of Division I play in 2009. The team will next take to the pitch for their annual alumni game on Saturday, April 25th at 11:00 a.m.