The Golden Bears captured the ECAC
Metro Tournament and were the first
women's team inducted into the
Downes Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003. 1 9 9 8
GOLDEN BEARS COMEBACK
Women’s soccer made its debut at Western New England in 1984 and the Golden
Bears had only one winning campaign
(averaging just five wins a year for their
first 10 seasons) until Dias took over a
decade later. His first squad finished 8-10
in 1994 before reeling off eight consecutive winning seasons.
The Golden Bears captured their first
GNAC title with a 1-0 victory over Simmons in 1995. After two straight second-place showings in the Massachusetts
Association for Intercollegiate Athletics
for Women Tournaments, the team had a
breakout year in 1998 with a 20-2 record
that remains the school record for wins.
Western New England won its last
seven matches highlighted by victories
over Western Connecticut ( 3-1) and host
Drew, NJ (2-0) for the Eastern College
Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III
Metro Tournament crown after entering
the event as the fourth seed.
That was the first-post season championship ever for the program and it had a
ripple effect on the other women’s teams
who began winning numerous league
titles, many for the first time.
HALL OF FAME COACH RON DIAS
RETIRES AFTER 22 INSPIRING SEASONS
WHEN RON DIAS LOOKS BACK on his successful coaching career, he can take great satisfaction in knowing he made a dramatic impact on the growth of not only the women’s soccer program,
but also women’s athletics at Western New England University. Dias, a native
of Ludlow, MA, retired last August after compiling a 241-184-32 record in
22 seasons. His win total ranks 31st on the all-time NCAA Division III list.
His teams captured five Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC)
Tournament titles, placed second on four other occasions, and made four
NCAA Division III Tournament appearances.
Dias, who was a part-time coach for his first 14 years, took a lot of pride in
his work and was always willing to take the extra step to ensure his players
received a positive student-athlete experience. He gives them the credit for
the success of the program.
“Throughout my 22 years we were always competitive, and that’s a
reflection of the players we had, and being their coach was the best part of
the job,” Dias stated. “I’m grateful for all of the enduring friendships that our
team members fostered together. I also had the pleasure of working with
some terrific assistant coaches. I can’t express how much everyone meant
to our program and to me personally.”
Dias worked for 35 years in the Veterans Department for the City of
Springfield before retiring in 2008. He then became a full-time member of the
athletics department with additional duties first as the Equipment Room
Supervisor and then as Work-Study Director.
(L to R), Jana Loper ’05, Molly Burke ’03, Kate Farry
’02/G’04 and Jacquie Bailey ’03 place their hands
over their hearts during the pledge of allegiance
after a moment of silence for those lives lost in the
terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Coach Ron Dias with his six seniors that included captain Kristin Thornton Hensinger ’07
The team won the GNAC Tournament title in
its last season in the league.
“Throughout my 22 years we were always
competitive and that’s a reflection of the
players we had and being their coach was
the best part of the job.”
BY KEN CERINO