Courtesy of RobertsRedHawks.com
ALBANY, N.Y. – One of the finest seasons in Roberts Wesleyan University women’s soccer had just ended in the first round of the NCAA Division II Championship on Friday afternoon, and head coach Sarah McClellan set aside the collective disappointment of the group to point the Redhawks forward.
“I told my team that we had to have this experience as this squad, so that we can continue to build our program for the future,” McClellan said following a 2-0 loss to Southern New Hampshire University in a game played on the campus of The College of Saint Rose in Albany.
The fifth-seeded Penmen (10-4-5), who were playing in their sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament, capitalized on having a strong wind at their back to score twice in a 4:31 span midway through the second half to advance to play top-seeded Saint Rose on Sunday. Roberts, which was making its first NCAA appearance since 2015, finished the season 10-3-3.
“The wind played quite a factor and we did not take advantage of it in the first half as much as we could have to generate chances,” McClellan said. ” In the second half, it was just a little bit of a first-time experience that kind of got to us. I thought that Southern New Hampshire had a great second half to kind of wear us down and I congratulate them on the victory.”
Roberts had a couple of quality opportunities with the score tied 0-0 early in the second half as Courtney Felton nearly connected on a cross from Abigail Sindoni and Gabrielle Ciambella nodded a header toward goal that was turned aside.
All of the shots generated in the game were taken by the team with the wind behind it. The Southern New Hampshire goals were scored by Anne Sikkema in the 65th minute and Allison Beaumont in the 69th.
Although disappointing, the defeat does not diminish the long list of achievements by the Redhawks this fall, including:
- A second straight 10-win season and fourth in McClellan’s eight campaigns;
- Conceding just one goal in East Coast Conference regular-season play;
- Finishing the ECC regular season unbeaten (6-0-2);
- Capturing their first ECC regular-season championship;
- Hosting an ECC postseason game for the first time since 2015;
- Qualifying for the NCAA Division II Championships for the second time in program history.
McClellan, the ECC Coach of the Year, was proud of the Redhawks’ approach throughout the history-making season.
“I think what stands out to me is just the tenacity of the team and being really focused on game to game and not looking too far ahead,” she said. “We improved throughout the season and have come a long way. We overcame a lot of obstacles and whether it was injuries or illness or something else, they stepped up.”
With just three seniors, one fifth-year player and one graduate student on the roster, the future is bright for the Redhawks, who have compiled a 31-8-5 record since Oct. 1, 2021.
“Being that we were a young team this year, we are definitely primed to take the next step as a program,” McClellan said.