A rough weekend spent in Massachusetts saw the Spartans women’s soccer team drop games to conference opponent UMass-Boston on Saturday and two-time defending national champion Williams College on Sunday.
With the losses, Castleton moves to 4-4 overall and 1-1 in Little East Conference play. However, senior Makenzi Bellando is staying positive despite being shutout in both games.
“Playing back-to-back against two strong teams this weekend was a test for us for sure,” said Bellando, the reigning LEC offensive player of the week. “We’ve been on a ‘high’ so far and it’s been the best start to a season I’ve experienced in my four years so far. Some days we will be off, and some days we will be on. It’s about how we learn from our off-days and try to prevent them from happening again.”
Bellando’s four assists on the season leads the Spartans. Her offensive impact is also felt with her scoring, as she has three goals and a total of ten points, ranking second on the team behind junior midfielder Rylee Nichols’ six goals and 15 points.
Following the 3-0 loss to the Beacons of UMass-Boston, Castleton looked to make a change at goalie. Making her first career start against a formidable opponent, sophomore Alex Benfatti certainly felt the pressure of protecting the net against the Williams College Ephs.
“It was definitely a bit intimidating,” said Benfatti, Gloversville, New York native. “I knew coming in that this was a team that was going to be better than anyone we’ve faced, so I really would have to step up. I know that I’m capable of playing in high competition games, so I was super excited for the opportunity to prove myself.”
Recording 13 saves and playing the full 90 minutes was the highlight of the Spartans and Benfatti’s day, as the Ephs went on to win 7-0.
With the majority of the remaining games being within conference play, Benfatti would like to see her teammates continue to talk to each other throughout the course of the game.
“I think we definitely need to work on communication,” Benfatti said. We had some defensive breakdowns that possibly could’ve been prevented if we had talked to each other more.”
Next up for the women’s soccer team is two straight games at Dave Wolk Stadium, as they take on conference rival University of Southern Maine on September 28 and non-conference opponent Springfield College on October 1. Following the homestand, the Spartans will travel to Providence, Rhode Island for a conference game against the Anchorwomen of Rhode Island College.
Heading in to the halfway point of the season, Bellando is excited to see the endless hours of practice and conditioning come full-circle.
“It’s such a learning experience and that’s what has been most important to me,” Bellando said. “I’ve become so much stronger mentally and physically while playing college soccer, and it’s just been everything I could ask for.”