Pride women’s soccer team has been dominant this season, currently sitting at 10-2. Even with five injured starters, Springfield has managed to keep the ship afloat, but it has caused many players to fill bigger roles that they were not expecting coming into the season.
Freshman midfielder Sara Swetland is one of those players. After senior Mary Silva went down with a season-ending ankle injury against UMass Dartmouth, Swetland, standing at 5’ 4”, moved into the starting lineup.
Before being sidelined with an ankle injury that was inflicted in a game against Coast Guard and re injured in practice, Swetland was tied for top team scorer with six goals on the season. To say she made the transition look easy would be an understatement.
“She’s a good athlete,” said head coach John Gibson. “She’s very techincal, she’s smart and she finishes well with either foot. When we lost Mary to season-ending injury, Sara became the player we started to use and she began to do really well.”
The Pride will face off against Ohio Wesleyan at home Friday and Swetland hopes that she can play but says her timetable to return is “up in the air.”
Though Swetland was an all-state midfielder at Manchester Central High School in New Hampshire, she did not expect to be thrust into a starting position quite so soon in college.
“I’m just glad I can contribute,” she said. “I wanted to play a role, and whatever that role was I just wanted to do it my best. From on the sidelines cheering everyone on, or pushing people in practice, anything they needed I was going to do.”
Swetland started playing soccer at age 4. She would go in her backyard and dribble the ball around until she couldn’t anymore. As she got older she began playing recreation league soccer and basketball. She actually favored basketball more until she got to high school.
At Manchester Central High School she fell in love with soccer. Swetland was one of two freshman to make her school’s varsity soccer team, and she did much more than just make the team – she started and lead the team in goals.
She began her high school career at forward and led Manchester Central in scoring for the first three years of high school.
Unfortunately, Swetland tore her ACL towards the end of her junior year. She expected to come back to her natural forward position the following year, but because of a need at midfield Swetland’s coach asked her to play attacking center midfielder rather than forward.
“It helped playing center midfield because I never had the best foot skills, and playing the position definitely helped me gain that control of the ball and strength,” Swetland said.
Chemistry with her teammates is a big thing Sweatland says helped ease her transition into the starting lineup.
“My love for soccer has gotten stronger since I have gotten here,” she said. “I have always had a strong passion but just how everyone plays around me, it just makes me want to play harder for everyone.”
With only five regular season games left Swetland and the Pride look to continue their dominant play and make a deep playoff run.
“We’re playing as a team,” said Swetland. “What’s really impressive is that we are all playing really hard and were giving it our all every time we play.”