So the Ithaca College women’s soccer team’s season finally came to an end last night, with the Bombers losing 2-0 to Wheaton College in the NCAA Division III Final Four in San Antonio, Texas. It’s a tough loss to take, what with the Bombers winning 15 games, tying three more and absolutely dominating the competition all the way to the Final Four, only to get unceremoniously shut out in their very first game of the weekend.
Nevertheless, what the women’s soccer team did this season is tremendously impressive. Reaching the championship weekend in any NCAA sport is extremely difficult. Division III doesn’t have the athletic scholarships or lucrative television deals associated with Division I (or at least some parts of Division I) but it’s not small either.
There are 41 different athletic conferences in Division III soccer alone, not counting independent teams. To even reach the NCAA Tournament, a team has to win most of its games and not lose in the conference tournament. It then has to win even more games in a very short period of time to get within shouting distance of a national championship.
And just because a team wins a lot doesn’t guarantee they’ll be bringing the national title home year after year. Just look at our very own football team, which just went 42 years between losing seasons and “only” won three national titles during that time. That doesn’t mean that the Bombers were a bad football team or underachieved during that streak.
It just means that championship teams have to be both very good and extraordinarily lucky. And when it comes to women’s soccer the Bombers were both, at least until last Friday night. And even after last night’s loss, you can’t deny that this Bombers women’s soccer team was still one of the best teams Ithaca College has seen in any sport in recent years. So hats off to them.