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One-game season for Coast Guard women's soccer comes against Division I Army

New London — Their story is normal in the new abnormal: The college team with a blip of a season, finally getting the opportunity to play. One game, one night, one chance. 

And this was quite the opportunity at Coast Guard Academy, the Division III women’s soccer program whose one-game season came Friday night on the banks of the Thames against Division I Army. That the Bears hung around all game and only lost 3-0 not only sustained a proud present, but an exciting future. 

“It was fun,” Coast Guard coach Susan Grant said. “It was the chance of a lifetime to play West Point here at home. I feel as if our team rose to the occasion, even if coming in a little bit intimidated. But I think once they got into the groove of the game, what we’ve been working on really started to shine through against a strong program.” 

Most other fall programs at Coast Guard played (or will play) their one-game season against the Merchant Marine Academy, the Bears’ traditional rival. Merchant Marine does not offer women’s soccer, leaving Army as Friday’s opponent. 

“It’s pretty sad that as our rivals (Merchant Marine) doesn’t have women’s soccer,” Coast Guard senior Kylee Ballard said. “I wish we could have played them. But playing Army was awesome. We can learn from them. I think the underclassmen will take away a lot of stuff from this game.” 

Ballard joined three other seniors for a pregame Senior Night ceremony on the field. Not the senior year they envisioned. 

“Knowing that we wouldn’t have a season has been rough,” Ballard said. “Just getting the chance to show up and be out here, whether it’s a DI team or not, was awesome. We gave it our all. 

“It’s been super hard to find the will to make you still want to come to practice. I play to compete. It’s tough to show up and spend a lot of time down here. There were definitely times I thought about not coming out. But the people here drove me to still do it.” 

And now Grant has a thought for the underclassmen to ponder: If you were this competitive with Army, what could you accomplish in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference next year? 

“We didn’t even know this one game was going to happen until about a week and a half ago,” Grant said. “It’s been playing to be with each other and have fun. That motivates them. 

“If we’d have had a little more confidence, I think the outcome would have been interesting. Looking to NEWMAC opponents, we’d shake things up a little bit. That’s exciting for the future.”

m.dimauro@theday.com

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