Seniors want more than a send-off in Reno


Bryan Cole / Collegian File Photo

On Sunday, the soccer team recognized midfielder Ali Sill, forward Nicole Gutierrez and defender Selena Gill on Senior Day.

All three captains, the only seniors on the team, concluded their last game at Bulldog Stadium in grand fashion with a 2-0 win over Nevada improving the team’s record to 9-8-2 (5-1-1 WAC).

Gutierrez found the back of the net in the 71st minute off a cross from Molly Nizzoli, while Sill scored in the 80th minute off an assist from Laura Dodd.

In addition, Gill led the way for the defense, recording the Bulldogs’ 10th shutout of the year.

“It was just an awesome bittersweet feeling,” Sill said. “Having myself and Nicole score, and Selena making big plays for the defense was a perfect way for all of us to go out.”

Senior Day drew 3,824 fans out to the game, the Bulldogs second highest attendance in soccer history. The senior class is responsible for 45 wins in their four-year careers, and will be the last soccer class to play in Bulldog Stadium. A new stadium will be designated for soccer next year.

Coach Steve Springthorpe said the seniors deserved to go out the way they did with all the hard work they’ve invested into the program.

“The crowd, the performance, you’d hope they’d be able to end their last game at home like this,” Springthorpe said. “I’m happy for the girls. It was a special day.”

With the win, the Bulldogs finished the regular season securing second place behind Utah State in the WAC. Both the Aggies and the Bulldogs will receive byes for the first round of play in the conference tournament.

“Receiving a bye is always important,” Springthorpe said. “It’s always nice to have extra rest and not have to play three games in four days.”

However, Springthorpe knows winning the conference tournament won’t be an easy task.

“The conference is tough top to bottom,” Springthorpe said. “But if we play like we have been playing, I like our chances.”

If everything goes according to plan, the Bulldogs will face the Aggies in the championship game. The Aggies were the only team to defeat the Bulldogs in conference play.

The first time around, the Bulldogs played the Aggies on the road and lost 1-0.

Sill feels it’ll be much different this time around.

“Our offense is clicking at the right time now, and our defense has been solid all year,” Sill said. “We’re as confident as ever going into the WAC Tournament.”

Gutierrez agreed and feels the team is nowhere near where they were at in the beginning of the season.
“It’s a 360-degree turnaround from where we are now to where we were,” Gutierrez said. “If we play like we know we can, we should take it.”

The formula all year for the Bulldogs has been to rely on the defense and score one goal to win. However, in the last couple games the offense has looked much more fluid.

Springthorpe said he doesn’t care how they win now as long as it is a win.

“We know we’re not a big goal-scoring team,” Springthorpe said. “It doesn’t matter now though. If we pick up two wins, we’ll be in the NCAA Tournament.”

Gutierrez said she’s not satisfied with her four years as a Bulldog just yet.

“I feel blessed for everything, but I’m not off this team yet,” Gutierrez said. “Hopefully, I won’t have to take this jersey off for a while.”

The WAC Tournament begins tomorrow in Reno, Nev. However, the Bulldogs won’t know who they play until they arrive in Reno, and won’t begin play until Friday.

With a win Friday, the team will play in the championship game Sunday not only for a conference tournament championship, but a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

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