Governor Ned Lamont visits campus to congratulate the Camels
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont visited the Connecticut College campus Dec. 9 to congratulate the men’s soccer team for winning the NCAA Division III national championship.
“You came together at the very best moment, when people needed you to step it up. You also came together and stepped up right when this state needed you the most,” Lamont told the team at a celebration held in Shain Library. “We needed something to cheer for, and I’ve got to tell you, the people of Connecticut were cheering for the Camels.”
He added, “You have a lot to be proud of, and I’m so proud of what you’ve accomplished.”
Men’s soccer won its first-ever national championship Dec. 4, defeating Amherst 1-1 (4-1) on penalties at UNCG Soccer Stadium in Greensboro, North Carolina.
After playing Amherst to a 1-1 tie through regulation and two overtimes, senior captain Lorenzo Bocchetti ’22 converted the deciding penalty after Peter Silvester ’25 stopped two spot-kicks in the shootout.
Less than 24 hours later, the tired team returned to Conn’s campus, and was greeted by cheering students, faculty and staff at a joyful reception on Tempel Green Sunday morning.
Conn’s coach Reuben Burk was first off the bus, carrying the national championship trophy, as Queen’s “We are the Champions” blasted from the loudspeakers.
The welcome-back celebration “was a really nice gesture,” Burk told The Day newspaper. We “really appreciate students coming out.”
When they arrived on campus, players were still processing what it meant to win a national championship, Conn’s first-ever in a team sport.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” midfielder Augie Djerdjaj ’23 told The Day. “It’s weird because we haven’t gone to sleep yet, so it feels like today that we won, even though it was last night.”
During the brief campus celebration, Burk reflected on what it takes to win a national title.
“In order to win a national championship, you have to have a group of selfless guys,” Burk said.
“Guys that care more about that trophy that we have more than their own ego or their own reputation. That’s hard to instill because everyone goes through a recruiting process where they want what’s best for themselves, the best possible four years of what they can get from a school.
“But, once you get there, it’s no longer about you. It’s about all of us, together.”
Conn reached the final match by defeating Washington & Lee, 2-1, also in overtime, in the semifinals.
In addition to reaching its fourth straight NCAA Tournament and making its first trip to the NCAA’s Final Four, the Camels also won their first NESCAC regular season title, hosted the league's championship weekend for the first time, and advanced to the championship match of the NESCAC Tournament for the first time in program history. The team’s 18 victories is also a school record and betters the previous mark of 14 established all the way back in 1978.