For the New Paltz women’s soccer team, the 2011 season was the most successful in the program’s history. The Hawks qualified for the NCAA Division III Women’s Soccer Championship Tournament for the first time after earning their first-ever State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) women’s soccer championship title.
In recognition of its standout season, the New Paltz women’s soccer team was slotted at No. 20 in the final 2011 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) NCAA Division III Women’s National Top-25 Poll. This marks New Paltz’s inaugural appearance in the NSCAA national poll.
The Hawks won not only their first-ever SUNYAC Championship Tournament game in 2011, but they followed it up with their first-ever league title with a 1-0 victory over SUNY Cortland in the championship match on Nov. 5, which also served as Head Coach Colleen Bruley’s (Soccer) 100th career win.
Entering the NCAA Tournament as underdogs, the Hawks surprised many by advancing on penalty kicks against Lynchburg College in their opening-round contest after a 0-0 tie. New Paltz stayed hot by taking down Rowan University, 2-1, in overtime the next day to extend its season for another week before falling to Messiah College, the eventual national champion. Midfielder Alexa Balestrieri’s ’12 (Mathematics) first goal of the season could not have come at a better time, as she scored the game-winner against Rowan.
New Paltz gained entry into the NCAA Tournament by means of the automatic-qualifying bid from the SUNYAC. The Hawks shut out SUNY Cortland in the SUNYAC championship game, 1-0, with forward Shelby Kondelka ’13 (Elementary Education) scoring the lone goal for the Hawks off a helper from Balestrieri. In the SUNYAC Tournament semifinals, New Paltz beat SUNY Fredonia, 1-0, at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
Coach Bruley, who wrapped up her 15th season at the helm of the team, led the Hawks to a program-record 14 victories and tied the school record in SUNYAC wins with six, earning herself SUNYAC Women’s Soccer Coach of the Year honors for the second time during her tenure at New Paltz. With the Hawks’ victory in the conference title game, Bruley won her 100th career match.
Awards were aplenty for the Hawks throughout the 2011 season. Kondelka and defender Shannon Cobb ’12 (Elementary Education) were both named to the All-SUNYAC First Team, while midfielder Beth Bowling ’13 (Adolescent Education/Math), midfielder Emily Rokitowski ’13 (Sociology) and goalkeeper Stephanie Vega ’13 (Elementary Education) all landed on the All-SUNYAC Second Team. Vega also earned the 2011 SUNYAC Women’s Soccer Championship Tournament’s MVP accolades while being named to the All-Tournament Team along with Cobb, Rokitowski and forward Samantha Abravanel ’13 (Secondary Education (Spanish). Bowling and Vega each earned SUNYAC Player of the Week honors once during the season.
Vega ranked second in NCAA Division III in save percentage (.914), sixth in NCAA Division III in goalie minutes played (2,106) and 15th in NCAA Division III in goals-against average (0.47). Vega also set the program’s single-season record for shutouts with 13, while Kondelka tied the single-season program mark in assists with six.