By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The past two seasons ended with disappointing losses for the Bridgewater State University women’s soccer team.
In 2014, the Bears fell to Worcester State University, 2-1, in overtime in the semifinal round of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Last season, BSU was eliminated in the same round by Westfield State, falling on penalty kicks.
Now in her third season, head coach Yasmina Carvalho of Brockton is aiming to get the Bears at least a step further.
“Our goal is making it past the semifinals in the conference,’’ said Carvalho. “Last year was a hard loss and the year before was a tough loss.
“We’ve been so close making it to the finals, and the goal is to keep our season going as much as possible.’’
BSU, which was 10-7-2 last year, opens the schedule at Wheaton College on Sept. 3.
The Bears have 18 returning players, including three who earned All-Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference second-team honors.
Junior goalkeeper Lauren DeSousa of Taunton had seven shutouts and a 1.11 goals against average a year ago to make the all-conference squad.
“She had a great year,’’ said Carvalho of DeSousa, who will be backed up by sophomore Courtney Banzi.
Forward Marissa Yowell led the way with six goals and 14 points and Allyson Pontes is back as a midfielder after all-conference seasons.
BSU, which is picked to finish third in the MASCAC, has only six players from the senior and junior classes with 10 sophomores.
“We’re going to have a really young team,’’ said Carvalho. “ I hate to say it’s going to be a rebuilding season because it’s not. I feel we’re really going to blossom at the end of the year.’’
The Bears, who were 5-2 in the conference last season, is looking to boost the offense, which struggled at times a year ago.
Yowell should get some help from freshmen Alana Vincent of Taunton and Emma Sanders.
“We did have some issues with scoring,’’ said Carvalho. “We didn’t have a go-to person to score all our goals. It was spread across the board. This year we’ll focus on certain people to finish for us.’’
Other key returning players include sophomore back Kassidy Campbell, Amanda Leite, Drew Guay, Courtney Pepin, Caitlin Rowley, Melissa Morton and Kelsey Mitchell.
The Bears will be replacing three defenders who were lost to graduation.
“We just want to improve with every week, every game,’’ said Carvalho.