The 2013 women’s soccer team, which finished sixth in the NESCAC, upset No. 3 seed Bowdoin 2-1 to reach its first NESCAC semifinal since 2009. After a first-round exit from the 2012 NESCAC tournament and a slow start to the 2013 season in which they lost their first two games, the strong postseason showing has given the Jumbos even greater hopes for the season ahead.
“We came out a little iffy in the beginning of the season last year and we just kept getting stronger, and it’s really exciting to know that you went out and scored a goal against a team that wasn’t expecting it,” junior forward Allie Weiller said. “Our ability to overcome what people were thinking about us and give every team in the NESCAC a run for its money … I don’t think [they] were expecting that.”
Senior forward Alex Farris added that the goal for this year’s team is to exceed the success of last season.
“At the end of last season we made it to the semifinal of the NESCAC, and this year I really see us getting past [that],” Farris said. “That’s really my goal [this season], to win the NESCACs.”
Both Weiller and Farris are part of a front line that will be missing last season’s tri-captain and 2013 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-New England third team recipient, Anya Kaufmann (E ’14), who was also named to the NESCAC All-Conference second team with a team high 17 points (eight goals, one assist). Four of her eight goals came in conference games, and she set the program’s single-game scoring record with seven points, tallying three goals and an assist against Suffolk on Oct. 21, 2014.
But Farris is confident the team will step up to replace the loss of Kaufmann from its forward line.
“Losing seniors happens every year, and at this point I think we’re used to it. Some people just end up stepping up,” Farris said. “I think the most important thing is that it’s not going to be a few critical players at the end, but a full team playing together really well.”
That being said, senior midfielder Carla Kruyff, a second team NESCAC selection, and sophomore Robin Estus, who started and played in all 16 games last season, will be looking to extend their presence on the field even further. Estus and Kruyff took the most shots at the goal after Kaufmann — 32 and 27 respectively — and will join a larger group of players who now have the opportunity to play a bigger role in the attack.
“We relied on Anya a lot because she was so good, [but] the neat thing about this year is that the goal scoring will be spread around. We have a talented group of forwards, there’s not one that will just score all of our goals,” head coach Martha Whiting said. “I really believe that all of our forwards and midfielders will work together and create a more balanced attack rather than having to rely on one person all the time. I actually think it’ll be a good thing because we have kids ready to step up.”
Including Kaufmann the Jumbos have lost six seniors, but just three starters, with majority of their starting lineup still intact.
The defense lost one of the team captains last year, but will be led by senior Catharine Greer, NESCAC Rookie of the Year in 2011 and a three-time All-NESCAC selection. Greer earned NSCAA All-New England second team honors during the last two seasons.
“Our center backs, Catharine Greer and Nicole Campellone, this will be their second full year playing together,” Whiting said. “The two of them together, they’re just an amazing pair. They are great leaders back there, they understand the position and they have experience.”
The defense will also hinge on the team’s goalkeeper. Sophomore Eileen McGarry played just 135 minutes over four games last season.
“There’s nothing like experience. Playing the position for four years — that’s great for us,” Whiting said. “But Eileen McGarry is really talented and with the experience of Greer and Campellone, I think it’ll be a very solid defensive line.”
With a smaller roster of just 19 athletes, each player will likely see more playing time, a move Whiting feels will help the team.
“I foresee almost everyone playing, which is an interesting scenario to be in,” Whiting said. “Fewer numbers, but lots of talent in those smaller numbers.”