A new postseason started Wednesday for the Babson College field hockey, women’s volleyball, and men’s soccer teams, when NCAA Tournament play opened and student-athletes began this season’s pursuit of a national title.
Coming off a 32-1 regular season, its second straight NEWMAC Tournament Championship, and two deep NCAA Tournament runs, the women’s volleyball team now has its sights set on a national title.
“You have to take it one game at a time, there’s a lot of teams you have to go through,” head coach Eric Neely said.
Saturday’s NEWMAC Tournament Championship win over Emerson was Babson College’s 38thconsecutive home victory; the longest active streak in Division III.
“We have game-like practices that simulate game conditions well,” Neely said. “We’re a good team, good teams play well at home.”
In last year’s NCAA tournament, Babson College reached the Elite 8. In 2017, the women’s volleyball team advanced to the Sweet 16. This year’s tournament play kicks off Friday afternoon against UMass Boston.
“We have a group of student-athletes who are dedicated to getting better,” Neely said. “They embrace challenges.”
Playing against some of the top programs during the regular season helped the field hockey team land a spot and prepare for some of the best competition in the NCAA Tournament, head coach Julie Ryan said.
“We’ve improved so much playing these high-caliber teams,” she said. “We’re one of the top programs in the country, in order for us to maintain that, we need to be competing at this level consistently.”
Like the women’s volleyball team, the field hockey team has had its share of recent success. This trip to the NCAA Tournament is Babson College’s third in four years, and the field hockey team’s senior class has never lost a regular season NEWMAC game during their time at Babson College.
“Having been in the tournament before, they know what to expect,” Ryan said. “Of all the teams I’ve had, the depth and talent that we have on this team is at the top.”
Though the team fell to MIT in the NEWMAC Tournament Championship last weekend, Ryan said the loss could fuel Babson College against Saint Joseph’s of Maine Wednesday afternoon. The field hockey team later won its matchup, 2-0, and advanced to the second round where it will face Middlebury College.
“They want to continue to play together, and be ready for the next opportunity,” Ryan said. “They were extremely frustrated after Saturday; a little bit of that frustration can turn into some positive energy for us.”
Postseason soccer never gets old for men’s soccer head coach Jon Anderson ’75, P’04 ’08 ’13 ’13.
The 34-year coach has led his team to his 17th NCAA Tournament, and first since 2016, following a pair of thrilling overtime victories in the NEWMAC semifinals and championship.
“They were exciting games,” Anderson said. “(You) try to get them using the adrenaline and energy in a positive manner. That’s what they did.”
It’s the 28th time the men’s soccer team has earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Babson College will face SUNY Oneonta on Saturday afternoon.
“The more we can make them defend us, the better off we’re going to be,” said Anderson. “Momentum is going to shift back and forth, hopefully we have the better of it.”
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