The 2002 Bulldogs - 12-11-1 - FINAL FOUR
The 2002 season was a magical one for the Union College women's soccer program as the team qualified for the NAIA National Championship Tournament for the first time ever.
Yet, despite all the highs, the Bulldogs nearly missed out on what turned out to be an amazing postseason run.
Union had rolled through the regular season, posting a 17-0-2 record, winning the Appalachian Athletic Conference regular-season title with a 7-0-1 mark and capturing the conference tournament championship by outscoring the opposition 12-3 in three games. Additionally, the Bulldogs ended the regular season ranked No. 1 in the NAIA.
But as it prepared to play host to the NAIA Region XII Tournament, Union received word that it would have to forfeit 10 games, including all three conference tournament contests. The Bulldogs were stripped of the AAC regular-season and tournament championships and dropped to an 8-10-1 record.
The forfeitures were due to the playing of an ineligible player. The disheartening part of the situation was that the player figured very little in the team's success as she only played in the closing minutes of a few games and failed to score a goal or an assist.
Even though Union now had a losing record, it still ranked first in the region and qualified for the tournament. Undeterred by the setback, the Bulldogs won the region opener 9-0 over Tennessee Wesleyan College before defeating Milligan (Tenn.) College 5-2 in the championship match, earning the automatic berth to the national tournament.
Seeded second at nationals, Union blanked Maine-Farmington 4-0 in the opening round before upending Park (Mo.) 4-2 in the quarterfinal round. In the semifinal round, Union squared off against defending national champion and No. 3 seed Westmont (Calif.). Despite a valiant effort, Westmont recorded a 4-0 win, ending Union's season in the Final Four. Westmont went on to win the national championship.
Freshman Alessandra Tavoloni and senior Ana Bruni earned NAIA All-American First Team honors as well as receiving NAIA All-Tournament nods. Junior Paula Fantini and sophomore Camila Mendes also received NAIA All-American Honorable Mentions.
Tavoloni, who posted 37 goals and 91 points, was one of five Bulldogs to score 10 or more goals during the season. Fantini scored 19 times, while Veronica George (12), Bruni (11) and Carla Bissotto (11) followed. In goal, freshman goalkeeper Becki Woodworth made 135 saves in giving up just 19 goals for a 0.777 goals-against average. Woodworth also registered 12 shutouts.
The Bulldogs recorded a school-record 120 goals and 92 assists. Had it not had to forfeit the 10 games, Union would have finished the season 21-1-2. Rather, the Bulldogs ended the year 12-11-1.
The members of the 2002 Final Four team were Woodworth, Amy Johnson, Maggie George, Erica George, Beth Martin, Chace Kirkwood, Bruni, Fantini, Tavoloni, Christiane Lessa, Mendes, Shastina Parahoo, Veronica George, Kiki Alimonos, Bissotto and Amber Hensley.
The 2003 Bulldogs - 14-6-2
The 2003 squad attempted to duplicate the success it enjoyed the year before, and the Bulldogs nearly pulled it off.
More info on the 2003 team will be added soon.
The 2009 Bulldogs - 16-3-1
The 2009 squad put together an amazing season, winning both the Appalachian Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament championships.
More info on the 2009 team will be added soon.