For most Division III athletes, the last game of their senior year is one that none in the sports world ever look forward to. When a senior midfielder and captain for the Keene State College Women’s Soccer team played her last game of the season, she thought that was not only the end of her soccer career, but that it was also the end of a very important chapter in her life.
Brittany Croteau, of Swanzey, N.H., found out that this chapter containing her soccer career had one more game left to be played following her senior season on Nov. 20 when she was selected to play in 2012 NEWISA Senior Bowl, representing KSC.
Croteau was first nominated by Head Coach Denise Lyon’s for the game. After that, all D-III coaches cast their vote, deciding to elect Croteau as the sole representative for the Owls. Selected as one of the six midfielders from D-III to participate in the game, Croteau has shown leadership abilities in all facets of the game, according to Coach Lyons, proving that she deserved the nod to play another day.
“She’s a wonderful person on and off the field,” Lyons said. “I think she’s not just a good player but a great team leader and lead the team both on the field and off. She was great and just kept everyone in line especially for those younger kids being a big role model for them to look up to.”
The Senior Bowl is a game played not only by chosen all-stars from teams in Division-III Northeast Women’s soccer, but also is one played by both Division I and II players alike.
Croteau went into the Dec. 2 game played at Merrimack College with a clear awareness of exactly what she was she was competing against when stepping onto the field. With players ranging from renowned D-I universities like Boston College and the University of Connecticut, it was a big step for the KSC women’s captain.
“That was a good honor knowing that I was respected more than just outside of my team,” Croteau said.
Croteau added, “It’s also when I was talking to Coach Irish about it, she mentioned it’s all three divisions playing together and it will definitely be challenging more so than a normal game.”
Being able to play one more game, Croteau had a bittersweet feeling in the honor that was nostalgic of her now former teammates.
“It’s a great feeling,” Croteau said. “Our season didn’t end the way I wanted it to so it’s not the way it’d be with my team who I’d love to play more games with, but it’s a good way to just get a fun game in to end my soccer career.”
Teammate and co-captain Kelsie Bailey reiterated that her teammate’s selection was an appropriate pick. Bailey also explained how difficult it was going to be to fill the hole that Croteau’s graduation in May 2013 will leave.
“I think it was well deserved and she’s come so far since freshman year,” Bailey said. “I’m definitely going to miss the force that she has on impact of the game and her distribution with the ball as well as her leadership abilities.”
One of Croteau’s biggest supporters her whole career has always been her father, Gary Croteau. Throughout the years, Gary was the man who first presented his daughter with a soccer ball and continued to show his presence on the sideline of every game, including the Senior Bowl, the last game he may ever be able to show his support as a father to his athlete daughter.
Gary said his daughter loves the game giving her heart and soul in every aspect of the sport.
“She’s always made me proud,” Gary said. “She’s always given a 110 percent and she’s never given me a moment to not be proud of her in every way.”
Not only has Croteau’s father always been there to support her throughout her career, but her teammates and friends have been the backbone to her success contributing in every way they can.
“My teammates have helped me drastically both on and off the field,” Croteau said. “On the field, we all pushed each other to do better than we can. Even when it’s running or just drills, we always try to push each other. So that definitely helped me competition wise in pushing to be the best.”
Croteau continued with how her regular non-teammate friends were just as important.
“My friends are very, very supportive, regardless whether it’s not teasing me for staying in to do homework because I have a game or actually coming to the games to support us,” Croteau said.
She added, “Our friends have a really great support system.”
Coach Lyons said that she had great seniors on her team this past season and her selection of nominating Croteau for the Senior Bowl was still a no-brainer.
She said to see Croteau in the presence of such company like the top players from UConn and BC was something special. Lyons continued and discussed the kind of loss the presence of a player like Croteau from her program will have but stayed optimistic about the future.
“I’m going to miss everything about her but not just her ability in playing the game,” Lyons said. “But her presence on and off the field, coming in and discussing players. I think she’s one of my favorite players I’ve ever had at [KSC], if not my favorite. They’re rare to find, to have the combination as a good academic student, a team leader and a person who players will look up to and respect. Overall she did such a good job as a captain. Kelsie Bailey, the other captain, has got another year and I think can help lead the team in a similar fashion,” Lyons said.
Bailey reiterated this statement and said Croteau has not only been a teammate, but a good friend as well.
“I don’t think there’s anyone that could ever replace her but she’ll always be known as one of the best upperclassmen over the past couple years,” Bailey said.
Croteau played well in the Senior Bowl competing in the first half of the game with a D-I stand out from UConn proving her ability to step up her game when the time is needed. Her team lost the match 5-3 in a competitive game that proved all players’ worth to their programs this past season.
Like all chapters in a life, this one must eventually come to an end. Croteau said she will always remember this honor, but it’ll still never beat the memories she had with her team.
Most notably, beating a school like Amherst College, winning the Little East Conference Finals twice, and achieving the unattainable with conquering the ECAC during her freshman year.
Captains like Brittany Croteau will never forget their years at college playing soccer, just like they’ll never be forgotten as players in return.
Dalton Charest can be contacted at