By Jerry Del Priore
It’s not often that a college freshman goalkeeper gets to start in her first season. But when Tufts University’s starting junior netminder went down with an injury, New York City’s Hayley Bernstein stepped right in and has performed impressively so far this year.
“I was surprised,” Bernstein said of being named the Jumbo’s starting goalkeeper. “It kind of happened when the junior goalkeeper got hurt. I’m incredibly grateful to play in my freshman year.”
Just to think, Bernstein almost didn’t end up at Tufts, as she said she was going to attend the University of Pennsylvania as just a student. But she visited the New England area college in her sophomore year at Beacon High School in Manhattan, where she and the Lady Blue Demons captured two Public School Athletic League (PSAL) Class A Championships. The University made an impression on her.
Bernstein said she had always kept Tufts in the back of her mind and decided to attend the New England area college after reaching out to the Jumbos’ soccer coaching staff, who wanted her to join the squad.
“For most of high school, it was something I thought about, and considered,” Bernstein said of playing soccer on the collegiate level. “I wanted a good education, but if I could play soccer and attend a good college, that would be great.”
Fourtantley for the Jumbos, Bernstein decided upon Tufts, where she has saved 70 shots while allowing 13 goals, good for a 0.76 goals-against average (GAA) in 17 tilts for the Jumbos, who have posted a 12-3-2 record thus far this season.
Additionally, the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) named the Manhattan native Player of the Week on October 14th.
In two starts, Bernstein made nine saves on 10 shots on goal for a .900 save percentage in wins over Amherst College and Hamilton College. She had a solid 0.50 goals-against average for the week.
While the NESCAC bestowed her with a nice recognition, Bernstein, who had played soccer for the Manhattan Soccer Club since childhood, split the credit with her teammates and refuses to rest on her laurels.
“I definitely share the honor with my entire team,” she said of the Player of the Week award. “I’m just trying to work as hard as I can, and get better with each game.”
Bernstein’s solid goalkeeping had helped Tufts earn the No. 1 spot in the NESCAC Championship, as it advanced to the semifinals against fourth-seeded Amherst College, in which it lost, 3-0.
While the Jumbos came up short in the NESCAC Championship, Bernstein said, “Everyone makes mistakes, but I feel I’ve done my part.”
However, Tufts and Bernstein will get an opportunity at redemption, as it has earned an at-large berth into the 2019 NCAA Women’s Soccer Division III Championship.
The Jumbos (12-3-2) will travel to The College of New Jersey (TCNJ–Ewing, New Jersey) for a four-team NCAA Regional. Tufts will square off against the State University of New York Athletic Conference champions Cortland State University (12-5-2) in the first round on Saturday.
The host and New Jersey Athletic Conference champion Lions (16-1-1) will face City University of New York Athletic Conference winners John Jay College (12-6-1) in Saturday’s other first-round game. The winners will meet in the Regional final on Sunday.