The Regals’ soccer season came to an end Sunday night in Waverly, Iowa. They suffered a heart-breaking loss to Concordia-Moorhead College (Minn.) by a score of 3-2.
The Regals got to the second round of play in the NCAA Division III tournament behind the foot of sophomore Taylor Will. The SCIAC player of the year scored both goals for Cal Lutheran Saturday night when they knocked off the host of the regional bracket, Wartburg College (Iowa).
Coming into the tournament, Will looked on last season’s postseason play as a tool to help prepare her and her team for this year’s playoffs.
“Last season was an eye opener for us,” said Will. “We had not lost all season up until playoffs, so we really didn’t know what it felt like to lose. This year I feel like we realize that we can’t underestimate any team based on their record or scouting report. Every game will be a battle since it is a single elimination tournament.”
The Regals were placed in this region after earning an at-large bid in the tournament.
The coaches and players said their bid should have been automatic since they were the regular season champions. When asked about the format, junior Kristina Hulse was adamant about her stance.
“I don’t agree with it at all. I don’t see the point of working hard all season if the fourth place team can win the tournament and end up going to playoffs, rather than the first place team,” said Hulse.
Will was also upset with how the season ended. She believes that games played during the season should indicate the representative for SCIAC, instead of a few games where anyone could win.
“What is the point of winning SCIAC and going through 14 games to do so if an 8-5 team gets a lucky goal and advances. It doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Will.
Because the Regals didn’t earn that automatic bid by winning the SCIAC tournament, they waited in anticipation to be selected.
“Of course, when your fate isn’t in your own hands and you can’t control it, you’re always a little bit nervous. But we felt like we had a good shot based off our body of work throughout the year,” said head coach Frank Marino.
Even though they were unable to host the regional, their selection to go to Iowa was a positive one for Marino.
“I think going on the road is a good thing for us. I think we’ll be more focused than we maybe would be at home,” said Marino.
However, Marino did not anticipate the conditions the Regals had to endure on Sunday night.
According to many players, the weather was unlike anything they had ever played in. The 23-degree temperature and wind chill favored the team from Minnesota, instead of CLU team, who have been playing in 80-degree weather all season.
“The weather made it hard to move, but we knew that mentally and physically we would have to get past that and just play our game to the best of our ability,” said senior captain Kirsten DiPippo.
An unfortunate call by the referees that took away the tying goal went against the Regals and changed the momentum of the game. However, the Regals never gave up and fought as hard as they could until the final whistle.
The loss brought CLU’s overall record to 18-5. The Regals went 13-1 in SCIAC, won the regular season championship, had a league-high seven players named to the All-SCIAC team and won a playoff game, which has not been done in 21 seasons.
For DiPippo and the other seniors it was a bittersweet loss, but they finished the season strong and can see more success for the Regals on the horizon.
“As a senior, I’m sad that my competitive soccer career is over, but I couldn’t be more proud of my team and the effort that they gave tonight and in this season,” said DiPippo. “I have high hopes for the future of the program and know that it can only get better.”
Published Nov. 14, 2012