Spartan women take home NAC championship

Julia Carone advances the ball upfield while being pursuied by a Husson defender in the NAC Championship game on Nov. 4. Photo by Seldon Hill. 

The Castleton University women’s soccer team took home the NAC championship in a double overtime thriller versus Husson on Nov. 4.

The win gave the team an 11-7-2 record and an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. Husson’s season came to an end with a record of 9-7-1.

Bronwen Hopwood collected a through ball at her feet and maneuvered her way past several Eagle defenders before sliding the shot by Husson goalie, Sami Ireland, and into the left corner of the net for the win.

The first half was a tense back and forth for 45 minutes. While both defenses stood strong, neither team was short of scoring opportunities throughout.

The Eagles had a great opportunity midway through the half, but the header by Taylor Fortin was stopped by Spartan goalie, Kylie Baran. Soon after Castleton forward Makenzi Bellando had a breakaway, but her shot sailed just right of the goal.

The second half would continue the back and forth battle. Hopwood had a shot halfway through the second half that looked promising, but Ireland managed to get her hands on it. Husson would attempt to strike back as they approached the end of regulation, but Baran and the Spartan defense stood tall, holding off all efforts.

As the first overtime began, the tension in the arena was rising quickly. Neither team was able to gain a real edge, and only Baran made a save throughout, off a shot from Husson’s Leah Hibbad.

Castleton controlled the ball for much of the second overtime, eventually leading to the game winning goal from Hopwood.

The crowd erupted as the team, including head coach Chris Chapdelaine, stormed the field to celebrate. The crowd wouldn’t quiet down for several minutes as everyone continued to celebrate the women’s first NAC title since 2012.

“It feels awesome. I don’t even know what to say,” said Chapdelaine after the win, “I’m just so impressed with our team. I thought we stole this game from them, but that’s who we’ve been this year, we’ve been opportunistic and clingy.”

The goal itself was a ride for Chapdelaine as well. “Bronwen is such a snake she is all over the place I thought she was going to fall, she got her balance had a little cutback this way, it seemed like eternity, the keeper was coming, and honestly, she shot and I just ran on the field. I didn’t even know if it went in,” Chapdelaine said.

Baran was named NAC Tournament MVP after her stellar performances throughout the tournament. Joining her on the All Tournament Team were Bellando, Rylee Nichols, Kaitie Sanders, and Hopwood from Castleton. Hibbad, Kylie O’Connell, and Alex Speed from Husson. Kayla Pugliese and Jaycie Triandafilou from New England College. Lastly, Abbie Sansoucy and Corrie Hoyt of Colby Sawyer were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Hopwood was full of pride after being named to the All-Tournament Team, but not just pride in herself. “It means everything, we have worked so hard over the past couple of months and we did what we needed to do. And now that we’re leaving the NAC, we finally leave with a win and the chip.”

The Spartans were matched up against MIT, ranked second in the New England Region, in the first round of the NCAA tournament this past weekend. MIT advanced to the second round, and Castleton’s season came to an end. Despite being the first team to score two goals against MIT in the first half, the Engineers would go on to score 5 unanswered goals. The final score was 7-2.

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