The NEC women’s soccer team finished the 2019 season with an overall record of 9-9-1, a conference record of 5-1-1 and a heartbreaking 2-1 Final Four loss to Elms College.
“We knew this season was going to be a bit challenging as we lost so many seniors last season,” said senior midfielder Molly Bieksha. “There were so many positions open to potential players. We did have a ton of potential, though. We grew as a team as the season progressed and were able to see what we are capable of and what the returners can strive to reach [for] next season.”
The Pilgrims found themselves in a tough non-conference stretch to start the season, only winning one out of their first five games. But they went 3-2 in their next five, two out of the three wins coming against conference opponents, and both losses to nationally ranked teams in Amherst and Middlebury.
“We played a lot of challenging teams at the beginning of the season,” said junior midfielder Hailey Page, “as the season progressed, we began winning a lot more games and playing as a team.”
Senior defensemen Payten Walker and senior defensemen Meghan Hickey both noted that the team unfortunately lost games they felt they should have won. But also added that the team worked hard and “gave it everything we had.”
NEC placed two on the All-NECC second team with junior defensemen Leeann Demirjian and sophomore defensemen Madison Wheeler claiming the honors. Freshman forward Kayla Paquin was awarded NECC Rookie of the Year, after notching three game-winning goals in her first season.
Towards the end of the regular season the Pilgrims went 3-1-1 in conference play, earning them the third seed in the playoffs, and a first-round match up against Bay Path University. A 3-1 victory, with two goals coming from Bieksha, led them to a Final Four match up at Elms College, where their goal of reaching the NECC championship in back to back seasons sadly came to an end.
Paquin and fellow freshman midfielder Emily Wightman were named to the NECC-All Tournament team.
Page is looking forward to continuing to build upon the foundation the nine departing seniors helped build. “I love being a part of this team!” said Page. “The young women on this team have become my family and I can’t picture my college experience without them.”
Hickey echoed the sentiment of being thankful for being part of the women’s soccer program as she wrapped up her fourth and final year. Bieksha noted she wants next year’s team to “gain the drive to want to win,” and then concluded: “They are so capable of greatness and encompass the ability to be the best in the league. Once they get the different pieces to connect, they will see success. I believe in the team, and [I] wish nothing but the very best.”