Last Saturday Pride women’s soccer finished its regular season 13-5 overall and fourth in the NEWMAC after defeating the defending NEWMAC champions, WPI. The women usually finish near the top among the top teams in the conference. Although they finished fourth, this year was different. The Pride went through many ups and downs as almost every player was playing through injury and at one point five starters were out with injury.
The women lost arguably their best player in their sixth game of the year against Coast Guard, when Dakota Kelly went down with a lateral tibial plateau fracture. Allen has been a starter for the Pride since her freshman year and plays a big role because of her leadership and experience.
After her, Mary Silva went down with a season ending ankle injury in a loss against UMass- Dartmouth. Following Silva’s injury, freshman Sara Swetland, who was leading the team in goals at the time, went down with an ankle injury that made her miss five games.
Swetland and Allen returned for the last game of the season in which the Pride played what looked like their best game of the year.
The team clicked on all cylinders and everything seemed like it was coming together until senior midfielder Monique Marcelino went down with a season ending injury late in the the contest and Amanda Wright suffered a separate injury that would also keep her out of the first round of the NEWMAC tournament.
“It is just one thing after another,” said head coach John Gibson. “We talk in the locker room about being dealt bad hands when we started losing people. I told them being good does not start with having the best cards in your hand it is how you play the cards you got. I think that we play the cards really well.”
The women took on Wellesley in the quarterfinals without junior Amanda Wright and senior Monique Marcelino, moving sophomore Sidney Wine and freshman Sara Swetland into the starting lineup.
The Pride showed its depth and relentless effort by finding a way to pull out a tough win against Wellesley by winning in a penalty shootout.
Gibson asks his players who he wants to take penalty shots and only one senior, Kim Quiles, who has been a leader all year, took a shot during the penalty shootout; showing the confidence and maturity of the younger players on the team.
Swetland started in her first ever NEWMAC tournament and scored on a penalty shot in the eighth round of the shootout.
“I wasn’t really nervous,” Swetland said. “I was just excited and ready to play. You can’t really be nervous, just excited. I just tried not to think about it. I just shot it, if you think it about it too much it will overwhelm you.”
Gibson speaks highly of freshman Brinsley Chase’s confidence and how she does not fear the big moment at all.
“Brinsley, a freshman, wanted it,” said Gibson. “She was pretty confident. She said ‘I want one’, and that is what we want, people who want them.”
The mantra for the women all year has been “relentless” and that is how they have been in their pursuit of winning despite an injury riddled roster. Many young players have been thrust into positions they were not expecting but have shown that they are more than ready to play. Now that the Pride have most of its team back, they will certainly be a scary matchup for every team this postseason.