By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The 2016 Bridgewater State University women’s soccer season came to a disappointing end last Nov. 6.
The Bears were edged by Worcester State, 2-1, in the championship game of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference, losing on a goal that was scored with less than five minutes remaining.
“It’s a lot of motivation for us,″ said coach Yasmina Carvalho. “They knew in their hearts that game could have been a win for us and we could have moved on to the NCAAs.
“They know now that every minute of every game counts. They remember that afternoon last November and they want to finish it this year. That’s what we’re hoping for and working towards.″
BSU begins the season in New York by playing Skidmore on Friday at 3 p.m. in Saratoga Springs and Union on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Schenectady.
The Bears, who went 7-6-6, return 18 players from a year ago, losing two starters to graduation. BSU was 4-1-2 in the MASCAC.
Senior goalkeeper Lauren DeSousa of Taunton is back after earning MASCAC Player of the Year honors. She allowed 12 goals in 19 starts and was part of 11 shutouts.
“Having Lauren is great,″ said Carvalho. “It’s a sense of having someone who knows what they’re talking about and is confident in her playing style.″
The Bears were strong on defense in front of DeSousa last season, and that should be the case again this fall.
Juniors Molly Shield, Caitlin Rowley and Kassidy Campbell plus sophomore Kaitlyn Bongarzone formed a stingy group on defense.
“We’re pretty solid defensively,″ said Carvalho. “They are pretty much the glue.″
Offense was the problem area for BSU, which managed just 18 goals in 19 games.
Alana Vincent of Taunton had a team-high six goals and 13 points in her freshman year to earn All-MASCAC honors.
Only one other player scored more than two goals. Senior Nicole Simas is back after scoring three goals.
Courtney Pepin also returns after getting four assists and making the all-conference team and freshman Samantha Tomaszewski should provide goal-scoring help.
“We struggled a little bit putting the ball in the back of the net,″ said Carvalho. “Our possession game was phenomenal.
“We just had trouble in our last offensive surge, finishing. It’s something we’re looking forward to changing and making a positive in our game.″
The Bears, who play their home opener Sept. 9 against Plymouth State, are picked to finish second in the MASCAC preseason poll.