By James Duffy, deputy sports editor

After six seasons serving on the coaching staff for the Northeastern University (NU) women’s soccer team, Ashley Phillips was named the fourth head coach in team history.

“I’m just very thankful for the opportunity,” said Phillips, who spent five years as an assistant coach to Tracey Leone before taking the reigns on an interim basis last season after Leone stepped down.

Phillips steps into the job with a wealth of experience, a knowledge of the program and a team that has seen massive success during her tenure. With Phillips on the staff, the Huskies have risen to the status of national contender and made the NCAA tournament in back-to-back seasons – 2013 and 2014.

Phillips played college ball herself at Clemson University, where she started all four years as goalkeeper and was named an All-American. Phillips went to the National Women’s Soccer League after college, backstopping the Boston Breakers for three seasons, from 2009 to 2011.

After a disappointing loss in the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) playoffs last season, Phillips looks to guide her squad back to the national stage.

The Huskies dropped their last three regular season contests before falling to James Madison University in the postseason. Phillips chalked up the late season downfall to “wear and tear” and said that she has no concerns with her team moving forward..

“I’ve been through a lot with this team,” Phillips said. “I think I know the direction the school wants to go now.”

With almost the entire roster returning next season, Phillips looks to rely on her seniors to engineer success before they graduate.

“We have a big senior class coming up who won their freshman and sophomore years, but lost last season,” Phillips said. “When you have a lot of older kids you can put the weight on their shoulders, challenge them to see what they can do.”

Among those rising seniors for the Huskies are defender Mackenzie Dowd and midfielder Breeana Koemans, who helped carry NU to an 11-7-1 regular season record with six and five goals, respectively.

As far as expectations for her first full year at the helm, Phillips feels that the Huskies should be competitors.

“We plan to contend for a CAA championship,” she said. “I’d like to see us back in a place where we can get into the NCAA tournament with an at-large bid.”

Under Phillips’ leadership, the Huskies will look to fight back to the top when the season kicks off in August.

“We have a really strong group coming back next season,” Phillips said. “I’d like to see us change our destiny.”

Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics