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Happy Holidays: The Gift of the NE-10 Tournament is Here

Senior+and+Captain+Drew+Ribadeneyra+is+one+of+seven+seniors+experiencing+their+final+playoff+run.+Photo+Courtesy+of+Pace+U+Athletics.
Senior and Captain Drew Ribadeneyra is one of seven seniors experiencing their final playoff run. Photo Courtesy of Pace U Athletics.

Senior and Captain Drew Ribadeneyra is one of seven seniors experiencing their final playoff run. Photo Courtesy of Pace U Athletics.

Senior and Captain Drew Ribadeneyra is one of seven seniors experiencing their final playoff run. Photo Courtesy of Pace U Athletics.

Kwadar Ray, Sports Editor

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The holiday season has arrived and it has brought along with it the gift of postseason athletics. The most wonderful time of the year has come for multiple teams, including Pace Women’s Soccer.

Due to a 5-1 victory against Assumption College on Oct. 20, the Setters have clinched a berth into the NE-10 tournament for the second straight season.

Clinching a berth into the tournament that early into the season was a relief for the Setters, contrary to the process of last year’s playoff berth, which came down to the last game.

“It felt really good to not have to worry about if we’re going to make the playoffs, having to count up points and stress out like how we did last year,” says senior and team captain Emma Sinanan.

Maintaining consistent play as they head into the postseason is critical for the Setters’ chances of returning to the NE-10 Championship game.

“It’s a little difficult [mainting consistency in the postseason] because there’s more on the line and maybe its just a mental thing where you get a little more nervous ,” says senior and last year’s NE-10 Defensive Player of the Year Drew Ribadeneyra. “But overall, I think its easier physically to maintain a good play and that’s because in the whole  preseason and regular season, you really get a feel of how each player plays.”

Performing at a high level in the regular season is a different animal compared to performing at a high level in the postseason, and that applies to both players and coaches.

“At this point, it’s about repetition, keeping the players fresh and preparing them for the next opponent,” 18th-year head coach Mike Winn said. “We probably do less, but at a higher intensity. More is on the line, but we see it as an opportunity for excitement instead of pressure.”

While experience in the NE-10 tournament is important, Ribadeneyra and Sinanan do not believe it’s the be-all-end-all for having success in the tournament.

“I don’t think [tournament experience] is super crucial. I think it does help in a sense, more so with nerves, but it’s not like we haven’t played these teams before or anything like that,” Ribadeneyra said. “I think the NE-10 playoff experience isn’t as important as just the years you have playing in the conference.”

Sinanan concurs, saying experience playing against teams in the conference is the main key heading into the postseason.

“It does help a little bit, but it’s not as if we haven’t played these teams before so its not like we have to expect anything different,” Sinanan said. “Teams might change up a little bit, but I think that as a whole, we adapt to different teams very well and try to do what we can do best so we can beat them.”

Perhaps what is more beneficial for the Setters is the fact they have faced the challenge of a schedule that mainly consisted of teams with a winning record.

“That definitely helps a lot more because even if we weren’t successful in some of those games, then that helps us to know the little things we have to do the next time we play them and even if we were successful, then we know what works against them,” Ribadeneyra said.

“I think the schedule helps us deal with adversity, makes us tougher mentally, and gives us pictures of what works well and what doesn’t against quality opponents,” Coach Winn said. “The mantra we always tell these guys is you have to deal with what’s put out there and you have to overcome things, and I think dealing with such a competitive schedule prepares these guys to combat challenges put in front of them.”

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