Women’s Soccer Claims First MIAA Regular Season Title

Women’s Soccer Claims First MIAA Regular Season Title

ADRIAN, Mich. – The women's soccer team made history with a 2-1 win over Albion on Tuesday night (Nov. 1) by capturing their first MIAA regular season championship in 23 years. The Bulldogs finished with an overall record of 16-4 and were 14-2 in the MIAA to finish with 42 points. Adrian will now look to make more history as they enter the MIAA Tournament as the top seed and advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Bulldogs will square off with Hope College (12-7, 10-6 MIAA) in the tournament semifinals at Performance Stadium on Thursday, Nov. 3 for a 4:00 PM kickoff.

"We can't really hide the fact that this is a pretty momentous occasion," said fourth-year head coach Ali Alamdari. "Four years ago, winning an MIAA title here was absolutely unthinkable. All the credit has to go directly to our players and alums that sacrificed and fought, game after game, practice after practice, to make this a reality. Playing soccer in this program is not easy, and it's not for everybody. We believe that personal goals are for the offseason, the fall is all about embracing your role for the good of the team, whatever it may be. I don't know that I've ever coached a team that's been more selfless and fun to coach. I think our success goes hand in hand with the quality of people that we have on this team."

The team celebrated on the field afterwards as MIAA commissioner Dave Neilson handed the championship trophy to seniors Stevie Burns, Kellie Irwin and Kelsey MacKenzie.

"Kellie, Stevie, and Kelsey each have remarkable stories," said Alamdari. "They are a special group of women, and I am forever indebted to them for believing in our philosophy and never giving up. Each one of them has had their struggles and challenges, but you would never know it based on the character that they display on a daily basis. Based on what they accomplished during their careers here, I can't wait to see what life has in store for them."

The game itself really meant nothing in the league standings as Adrian wrapped up the regular season last Saturday with a 7-0 win over Olivet. The team pulled off a one-goal win against a winless Albion squad who was playing for pride just two years after beating Adrian in the 2009 MIAA Tournament semifinals at Performance Stadium.

The Bulldogs needed every ounce of energy in front of a record crowd at Performance Stadium for a women's soccer match. Adrian peppered Albion goalkeeper Sam Bowditch and outshot the Britons, 21-6, including a 17-4 edge in shots on goal.

Becky Reynolds staked Adrian to a 1-0 lead at 22:59 for her third goal of the season. Patti Vaassen kicked a corner for the assist and Reynolds' header from 10 yards broke the scoreless tie. Adrian took their lead into the locker room where the team honored their three seniors.

After the break, Albion tied the game at 1-1 at the 62:57 mark as Alyssa Brown scored her second of the year on a long shot from 22 yards into the top left corner over the head of Burns. The Bulldogs kept the pressure on and finally broke through for a 2-1 win as Sam Barker notched her team and MIAA leading 22nd goal off a free kick by Vaassen with another header goal from 10 yards. Barker now has 39 career goals just two shy of the school record set by Lindsay Chitwood from 2006-09.

Burns finished with three saves to improve to 2-0 this season in net. Barker led the team with six shots on goal followed by four by Haley Smith and two from Erin Weide and Reynolds.

"Anyone who followed our league this year saw the culmination of several years of hard work around the MIAA," said Alamdari. "There were five or six teams that were capable of beating each other on any given day, and it was absolutely brutal to try to navigate 16 league games over a course of seven weeks. We said at the very beginning that whoever won this thing would definitely deserve it, and I'm thrilled that our planning, preparation, and performances allowed us to end the season at the top. My hat goes off to all the teams around the league, the MIAA is an amazing conference and our fans were treated to some fantastic matches that really highlighted the talent we have at the DIII level."