By Josh Perry, Managing Editor, HockomockSports.com
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- With a brace against Wentworth on Thursday, taking her total to 10 goals for the season, former Taunton standout Alana Vincent took over sole possession of seventh place on the all-time scoring list at Bridgewater State. Despite missing almost all of her sophomore season to injury, the senior forward and two-time All-MASCAC performer continues to solidify her place among the program’s top goal scorers.
“It feels amazing,” Vincent said the day after her two goals against Wentworth. “Honestly, I didn’t even know I was close to being that until I started reading the bottom of the pages of the articles [on the BSU website]. I just want to keep going and get as many points as I can every game.”
Vincent has 64 points for her career and is just a point short of sixth place and 12 points behind fifth place, which is held by former King Philip star and Foxboro coach Kaitlin Lamothe-Vaughn.
She could already be at that level if not for the ankle injury that she suffered as a sophomore. Coming off an all-conference rookie year, in which she led the Bears with six goals and 13 points, Vincent tore the AFTL (anterior talofibular ligament) in her right ankle during a September practice.
“I went to stop a girl from shooting the ball and I didn’t lock my ankle,” she explained. “When I landed down on it, it just rolled every which way. I knew immediately when it happened that I was done. It swelled up immediately, all the way up to my leg, it was bad.”
It was the first serious injury that Vincent had suffered in her career and she struggled having to watch her team make a run at the postseason without her. She said, “I didn’t even cry when it happened but when I was told I was out for the rest of the season is when I broke down.” The rehab process was a long one, and Vincent found herself having to rebuild the strength in her leg after being forced to wear a boot and being on crutches.
Just before the start of preseason in her junior year, Vincent’s ankle wasn’t responding the way that the doctors hoped, so they gave her a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection to facilitate the healing process and avoid another surgery. It worked. Vincent made it back on the pitch at the start of preseason, although there were still some mental hurdles to get past as well.
“I was so excited,” she recalled. “I mean, I was nervous going in, just recapturing it in my head that I would do the same thing over and over again, but it felt great being back on the field with my team. My coach knew and kept saying, ‘You can’t be scared. You can’t be scared,’ because that can only make it worse.
“Going half into a tackle is worse than going into a full tackle but as soon as I got the confidence back in me I was good.”
The confidence returned quickly and Vincent got right back among the goals for the Bears. She finished her junior season with seven goals and an assist and was named to the all-conference team for the second time.
“Not playing sophomore year has given me so much motivation because I missed so many games and it really dawned on me that I only had two years left to give it my all,” Vincent said. “I knew I missed out on one season, so I needed to kill it on the next two.”
That mantra has continued into her senior year. She has scored 10 goals, including a pair of game winners, and recorded four assists. The Bears had a tough non-league schedule but have won six of the last nine games, including a 2-1 record in the MASCAC, heading into Saturday’s game with Salem State.
“It was tough to see those losses and overcome them but it was early in the season and our schedule was very hard,” she said. “We’ve definitely improved from there and learned from our mistakes in those games.”
While she was at Taunton, Vincent didn’t really consider that her career would continue beyond high school. After playing for the Tigers as an eighth grader, she transferred to Bristol-Plymouth for two years to study cosmetology. When she realized that she didn’t see a future in that career, she came back to Taunton and was part of the best season in the program’s history.
Vincent scored the game-winner against Mansfield to earn the Tigers a first-ever playoff appearance and then added a goal and an assist against Wellesley to secure the team’s first state tournament victory as well.
“I still think about the game that we beat Mansfield and it got us in the playoffs for the first time in a decade or something like that,” Vincent said. “I just think about the goal I got and the excitement that ran through your body knowing that you’d overcome such a hard thing to beat because Taunton was never known to get into the playoffs.”
Even as a senior at Taunton, Vincent wasn’t thinking about continuing her soccer career in college, but the opportunity arose to play at BSU and she jumped at it. That is a decision that has paid off for Vincent and for the Bears. Now, as she looks to the end of her collegiate career, Vincent is focused on adding another dramatic finish by leading the Bears to a MASCAC crown.
“It’s my last year, so I want to put my all into it,” she explained. “It would be an amazing accomplishment just because I know we’ve worked so hard as a group and individually I’ve worked so hard and I would love that my senior year.
“All together we have a lot of talent and, when we bring that all to the table, we’re an amazing team. We just need to do that every game.”
Editor’s Note – Bridgewater State moved above .500 on the season and to 3-1 in the MASCAC with a 2-0 victory over Salem State on Saturday. Vincent assisted on the game-winning goal with a left-footed cross in the seventh minute that was headed home for an early 1-0 lead. With that assist, Vincent moves into a tie for sixth place on the program’s all-time scoring list. Mansfield’s Kaitlyn Bongarzone was part of the Bears’ defense that held on for a clean sheet, while Milford grad Katie Brown, who was featured in an earlier story, played for Salem State.