On November 7, it was announced that both Goucher’s women’s and men’s soccer teams scored a bid to compete in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) tournament. A week later, they continued into the postseason and played ECAC games for the first time in school history.
The women’s team was ranked at the number four seed, and set to play in Madison, New Jersey against top-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson University Florham on November 12. They ended up blanking, and ended their season with a 3-0 loss.
“Everyone on our team worked extremely hard to get to the point that we did,” said Belle St. Jean ‘24 after the game, “While losing in the semifinals of ECACs was unfortunate, I am still very proud of the effort and determination that we showed.”
The women’s team recorded its highest win total since 2015, posting eight wins this season, and finished with a 1.00 team goals-against average– its lowest since 2012.
“We had a really great run with getting a winning record and getting to play in ECACs which was an amazing experience,” said St. Jean, “I’m already looking forward to next season!”
The men’s team was ranked second seed, and hosted third seed Neumann at Beldon Field on November 12.
Going into the game, Ali Kazim Nakhid ‘23 said that he “felt like we all still had something to prove.”
“We were at the point where, for me, every game was bigger than us,” said Nakhid, “Winning meant one more reason that we are in fact the best team in this program’s history.”
The Goucher men had already bested Neumann once early in the regular season, but Nakhid warned his teammates that this game would be more difficult. Following a slow start to the game, during halftime he gave his teammates an impassioned speech, reminding them that the game was more than just a scrimmage.
His words worked as motivation, and the team won 1-0 thanks to last-minute heroics by Xavier Dever ‘23, who scored with 14 seconds remaining in the game.
Dever said this win was “one of the most memorable games of [his] life,” in a string of many incredible games the team had this season.
Following the win, the men moved into the quarterfinals on November 13, facing off against number one seed Alvernia. Despite the cold, crowds turned out to support the Gophers at home.
Nakhid said he “never really notices the crowd when playing, but on Sunday [he] felt them.”
“I had never seen the atmosphere at Goucher like that,” he said, “It was freezing outside, I didn’t think that many people would show up. But they did. And they stayed… We really weren’t out there on our own.”
After being down 2-0 for much of the game, the Gophers rallied, scoring twice in the last five minutes of regulation to take the game into overtime. Nakhid recalled the last two minutes of the game in detail, every second, every movement, every snap-decision, in precise detail.
“We clawed back. Yaya [Diabagate] scored the first with four minutes left, and I said to myself ‘okay, now’s the time,’” said Nakhid.
With the help of teammates Adrian Mubiru and Andres Aristimuno, Nakhid was able to score, sending the game into extra minutes. After two scoreless overtimes, the game went into a shootout, which Goucher lost 4-5.
For the players, that loss was painful.
“It was heartbreaking,” Nakhid said, “more-so than after the Etown game in Landmark, because it felt like it was really over.”
Despite that, he has no regrets in his choices, or in how his team played.
“They put it all out there, what more can you ask?” he said.
Dever agreed and said, “the team has nothing to be ashamed of, we battled the entire season and unfortunately came up short right at the end.”
Both men shared strong emotional ties towards the others on their team, and expressed incredible gratitude when looking back on the season.
“This season not only left me with great memories and experiences, but also friendships and bonds that will last much longer than my years here at Goucher,” said Dever, “There’s nothing better than playing the best sport on Earth with your brothers.”
So yes, the loss hurt. These teams trained for months, and accomplished incredible things, but there were still a few dreams left unfulfilled.
Nakhid is graduating– he’ll never put on the blue and gold uniform again. However, he isn’t worried about the fate of his team.
“Soccer is a cruel lover. Surely after joy there is pain, and surely after pain there is joy,” he said, “The program goes on. It doesn’t end at us, despite it feeling like it does. It goes on.”