The men's and women's soccer teams wrapped up their seasons this past weekend at the 2018 USCAA Soccer National Championships in Virginia Beach. Each team tallied a win and a loss for the tournament and left the competition after the completion of pool play.
The USCAA introduced a new format for the soccer tournament this year, creating two separate tournaments (Division 1 and Division 2) divided between scholarship and non-scholarship programs.
The ESF women's team, playing in the Division 2 tournament, faced Cincinnati Clermont in its first game of group play. A goal by sophomore Lindsay Eberhart thanks to a well-threaded pass by junior Alyssa Hughes, put ESF up early. The Cougars countered with a goal at the 32nd minute to go into halftime tied 1-1. Another goal by the Cougars one minute into the second half pushed the lead to 2-1 which was the final score for the game.
In the next game, ESF ground out a win versus a physical Southern Maine Community College team. Hughes converted a penalty kick at the 62nd minute gave ESF a 1-0 lead and the win. The win and a loss wasn't enough for the Mighty Oaks to go on to the championship game, which followed pool play. This is the sixth year in a row the women's soccer team has qualified for the USCAA tournament. The team ended its season with a 8-5 overall record.
After the game Hughes shared her thoughts on the season. "Coming into the 2018 soccer season I was excited and nervous to finally be an upper classman on my team. Knowing that many seniors graduated the year before, I was expecting to have a very different team dynamic this year. From the start of preseason, I could tell that we had a group of hard-working girls that were willing to play any position. Although we lacked confidence in the first couple games of the season, our confidence grew as players began to understand their roles on the field. By the end of the season were able to beat the top team in the USCAA, SUNY Delhi, and win the HVIAC title."
The Mighty Oaks men's team fell to the number one seed, Johnson and Wales College of North Carolina, 2-0, in its first game. In the second game, ESF faced a familiar foe, Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival The King's College. The game ended with a familar result, a 5-0 win for ESF. Graduate student and team Captain Geoff Golick scored two goals in his final game for the Mighty Oaks. Senior Matt Hoppe scored two goals and senior George Beinetti also chipped in a goal. Sophomore net minder Carmine Tronolone had four saves in the shutout win. The men's team finished the season with a 9-7 overall record.
"I am extremely proud of everyone who steps on the field and wears the green and white of the Mighty Oaks. It is something special to be a part of and I'm glad for the friends that I have made through the soccer team here. While we didn't advance to the finals, we won our final game of the season with a shutout, ending the year on a high note and coming home in good spirits," said Golick.