Since 2004-05, the women’s soccer team has not put up any consecutive losing seasons. But after last season’s sub-.500 mark and the team’s 4-7-2 record three weeks ago, Bruno was in danger of doing what it had not done in a decade.
Three weeks later, the Bears (7-7-2, 3-3-1 Ivy) have salvaged what was once a lost season, ending on a three-game Ivy League winning streak. Erin Katz ’16, who scored the game-winning goal in Saturday’s 2-1 win against Yale, cited a double-overtime win against Cornell three weeks ago as the season’s turning point.
“When we had three games left in the season, it was Cornell, Penn, Yale,” Katz said. “As a team, we said to ourselves, ‘Let’s win these last three games.’ Cornell was the first goal we had in Ivy (play), and especially being down 2-0 and being able to climb back into the game, we really used that game to motivate us for the two games to follow.”
After defeating Cornell, the Bears shut out Penn 1-0 at home the following week. In their final game of the season Saturday, they beat Yale (4-10-2, 1-6) with goals from Katz and Carly Gould ’17. Gould finished the season as the Bears’ leading scorer with seven goals. Katz, who scored the Bears’ second goal, said the play was one the team had rehearsed.
“My goal yesterday came off a corner,” she said. “We actually practice our offensive corners a lot, and my job is to just stand in front of the goalkeeper. If a ball comes towards me, I just try and touch it and redirect it in, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Just 27 seconds after Katz and Gould scored, Sofia Griff got one back for Yale, drawing a foul in the box and firing her penalty shot past goalie Christine Etzel ’19. But Brown’s defense took charge afterward: The Bears held Yale to only three shots on net the rest of the game, and Etzel turned them all away.
The win allowed the Bears to finish the season with a .500 record — both in Ivy League competition and overall.
“It’s always a goal to get at least a .500 season,” said Captain Sarah Moody ’16. “With three games left, that was our opportunity, and we’re really proud that we could pull off a .500 season.”
“Especially when those last three games are Ivy games,” Katz added.
The Bears went from not scoring in their first four Ivy games to winning their last three and finishing third in the league. Moody said the team was motivated down the stretch by a multitude of factors.
“We were playing for the .500 season, but we were also playing for the senior class” and Head Coach Phil Pincince, she said. Saturday marked the last career game for Pincince, who will retire after a 39-year tenure — the longest of any women’s soccer coach in Division I. “We went into it with a lot of emotion, and when our team has a lot riding on certain games, we’re all invested in it, and we play our best,” Moody said.
Throughout the season, multiple players, including both Moody and Katz, have said that the team was better than the numbers showed. Now, somewhat vindicated by the three-game winning streak, Moody voiced satisfaction with the end result.
“It was the best senior season we could ask for,” she said. “The group of girls we had this year was very special, and I think that showed in our whole season. I’m really happy with how it ended — my entire career. It couldn’t have been better.”
With the season over, the team can now look ahead to next year. The departure of Pincince as well as six seniors will significantly change the makeup of the team, though several key players will remain.
“This program’s had one coach for 39 years, so I’m excited to see what happens,” Katz said. “But I think the core group of girls is really strong coming back. We’ve got people all over the field coming back who are strong and are going to get stronger.”