Women’s soccer squeezes by Eastern Conn. St. 1-0 in championship
The women’s soccer team rolled through its postseason campaign, winning the Little Eastern Conference and reaching the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The Owls went up against Eastern Connecticut State University in the LEC championship on November 9 and prevailed 1-0.
To the women, however, this win meant a heck of a lot. Eastern Connecticut and KSC have met up five times in LEC championship play, with Eastern Connecticut besting the Owls four of those times. Shaking them off was key for the Owls moving forward.
“I think it’s relieving, knowing that we can actually beat a team that’s beaten us,” senior back and captain, Kelsie Bailey, said.
“To beat them in regular time without penalty kicks and everything else, it’s a really, really good feeling.”
Fellow senior and captain Hayley Kenyon is also thrilled to get Eastern Connecticut off their backs. How excited is she?
“I can’t even describe the feeling,” she said. “You don’t get chances like that again and it was great that we were able to come out on top.”
Of course getting past Eastern Connecticut means the Owls punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament.
Head coach Denise Lyons, who was named the LEC Coach of the Year, couldn’t wait for her girls to see some time in the national tournament. “Finally, we pulled it off and I’m excited. After nine years, to return to the NCAAs, it’s exciting, especially with eight seniors. With eight of them, I wanted them to get a feel for what it’s like to play at this high level and I’m excited for them.”
This will be the first trip the Owls have taken to the NCAA tournament in nine years. Bailey, who recently captured the LEC award for Defensive Player of the Year, understands the inexperience that the girls have with the NCAA tournament, but has total confidence in her group.
“This year, our team is a lot more cohesive, we have really good team chemistry,” Bailey explained. “It took us a couple games in the season this year, but we really clicked as a team, we think we can overcome a lot.”
Bailey said she believes that working together is something that the team has to do to find success in the tournament. Kenyon echoed her fellow captain’s mindset.
“You’re not going to be able to go to the NCAAs every year, this is my first time and I’m a senior, so just enjoy the game you love, basically,” Kenyon said.
Coach Lyons just wants the team to go out and enjoy themselves.
“The girls are all excited, it’s a great feeling to be going, to participate in it is wonderful, so how we go is up to us,” Lyons said. “We’ll just take one game at a time and see as far as we can go.”
Bailey understands that it takes hard work and persistence to push through the playoffs. She wants the team to prove that they’ve earned the position they’re in.
She wants “a lot of heart and a lot of dedication, showing that you really want to be here and showing that this is what we strive for all season.”
Lyons said she thinks this year shows that with a healthy and excited team, anything is possible.
Ray Waldron can be contacted at email@example.com