Women’s Soccer kick off 2021 season


Brian Bae

Women’s soccer kick off their season this Sunday against New Hampshire, after a 15-month hiatus.

Peyton Doyle, news correspondent

The last game for Northeastern University’s women’s soccer team came in a 2-1 loss against Elon University in the CAA quarterfinals Nov. 1, 2019. Since then the team has seen their fall 2020 season cancelled and could only practice for over a year now to abide by strict COVID-19 guidelines. 

The Huskies will be playing their first game in 15 months when they face the New Hampshire Wildcats on Sunday Feb. 14.

The team has been able to practice outdoors for the most part since September, only being inside for a couple of days after the snowstorms at the end of January and early February. 

Winter in Boston is not an ideal time for anyone to be practicing outdoors, but it has been even more difficult for the team as they have been forced to hold practices only at night. 

“We have to go in the evenings because we have nine players on co-op right now. So it’s been a little chilly,” said head coach Ashley Phillips. “They’re cold, I will say they’re cold. And to be fair, they actually sometimes run a bit more because they’re freezing. So when you run you get a little bit warmer. So they’re kind of more inclined to want to go, go, go, they don’t really want water breaks. They’re not joking around as much as they normally are.”

Senior goalkeeper Megan Adams and the rest of the team cannot wait to finally get some real game action after just practicing since November 2019. 

“We have been able to do some intrasquad practices and scrimmages that certainly get pretty competitive because we’re all just rearing to go and compete again in a game format,” Adams said. “I think we are all looking forward to getting back out there. I think everybody is super excited. It is a little nerve-racking from a COVID perspective, but also because we haven’t done this for so long. I almost forget what it’s like to be in a locker room before a game and we’re still not sure what that is exactly going to look like.”

The team lost their second and third highest point scorers from last season to graduation, as well as their previous captain and two-time All-CAA Second Team center back, Eve Goulet. 

Phillips, however, is not overly concerned with the loss of her seniors, as she knows that her team’s strength lies in its depth. This will be her fifth season as the team’s head coach and her 10th season with the program. 

Despite the ongoing pandemic, the team is still doing their best to try to get to know one another. The team consists of just five freshmen, but the older players have welcomed them with open arms.

“I was surprised. Honestly, I think our older kids did a really good job, just understanding how challenging this was gonna be for the freshmen,” Philips said. “So our freshmen are pretty quiet. That adds another little wrench to this problem, I thought it would take a little bit for them to come out. But I think the older kids kind of gravitated towards them and kind of forced them to come out a little bit quickly.”

In normal times teams can face chemistry issues, but a lack of preseason road trips or team dinners due to COVID-19 restrictions can hamper a team’s ability to meld even more. 

Adams said that she felt the freshmen adapted well to their new environment, given the strange circumstances of the times.

“I think that to a certain degree, the fact that we were all going through this chaotic period, wondering what we’re doing, what’s the routine, helped [the freshmen],” Adams said. “In some respects, I think it could be almost comforting that they weren’t the only people not knowing what’s going on. I think this year more than ever we made a real effort to reach out to the freshmen and try to incorporate them into the social setting.”

Phillips thinks some of those freshmen can impact the team early. The graduation of Ware and Kerri Zerfoss has left a lot of important minutes up for grabs in the midfield. Midfielders Eleanor Fisher and Gaby Scarlett are two of the freshmen poised to get playing time in this upcoming season. 

“You know, I think the speed of play and those things, they’re still adapting to, but if we played UNH, this Saturday, they would both get minutes in those games,” Phillips said in regards to Scarlett and Fisher. “I don’t know to what extent and you know, it’s really hard to evaluate them properly without playing an opponent or an inner squad. I think every one of [the freshmen] will get some playing time this year.”

Last season the goalkeeper position presented an interesting problem for Phillips and her staff as they had two talented players competing for one position. Adams and then-freshman Angeline Friel both vied for playing time before Friel eventually went down with an injury, forgoing the spot to Adams. 

This season will present a similar predicament for the coaching staff. 

“I think it’s a good problem to have, it’s sometimes a little challenging because they’re both so different, like they’re not even close to the same type of goalkeeper,” Phillips said. “So it could end up being like dependent on games or just kind of who’s in the best frame of mind and confidence.” 

Adams understands that it will be a competition this year for the starting spot.

“I played last fall a good amount but walking in this season does not mean anything. It does not mean that it will be my spot for this year,” Adams said. “I am hoping that I can earn that spot again this year. My main expectation is to earn that playing time, do well and have my team have confidence in me while I am in the net.”

The roster has plenty of other key returners outside of their goalkeeping pair. Returning players also include All-CAA First Team defender senior Julianne Ross as well as sophomore defender Jane Kaul and senior defender/midfielder Mikenna McManus who will help man the back line. Joining them is leading scorer senior forward Chelsea Domond, sophomore midfielder Alexis Legowski, sophomore forward Nina Dooley and sophomore midfielder Halle McCabe, as well as junior Grace Moore, who is working her way back from injury but could be a huge addition to the defense. 

“[Domond] was probably our most dangerous front-runner. I’m hopeful that her goal percentage is higher for her shots because I think she’s a little more confident being older,” Philips said. “She’s so fast and dynamic, and she’s a special dribbler.”

The Huskies will face a slightly shorter slate of games this season, currently scheduled to play 13 games over the next two months compared to their usual 20. Four of those games will be in conference bouts against the University of Delaware, Hofstra University, Towson University and Drexel University. 

The remainder of the season will see the Huskies play a wide range of opponents, with the first game of the season Feb. 14 at UNH, and the final non-conference April 1 against Boston College. Phillips acknowledged that their non-conference opponents will not be easy. 

“We were lucky we are in a region that has so many talented programs that we can bus to, and a lot of the programs are following the same protocols,” Phillips said. “BC is an ACC school, and they typically always make it challenging for us. We have not played UMass Amherst in a while. And they’ve recently in the last couple years changed coaches and have been phenomenal in [the Atlantic 10 conference]. So I think that’s going to be a great game.”

Even with a tough stretch of non-conference games, Phillips sees their most challenging opponents coming from within the CAA.

“Hofstra has kind of run the table for the last few years and they have won [the CAA] the last three years. So I think that’s always like a really serious, stressful for everyone, exciting kind of a rivalry,” Phillips said. “Even since I was an assistant coach, we have always found ourselves in the top three mix. They’re also close to us geographically, so it makes it fun.”

For Adams, the nearby opponents give her and her teammates a little extra motivation. The team’s past history with Hofstra is not easily forgotten either.

“Playing the local teams gets you fired up, because you want to be the top Boston team. While we don’t have anything formal like the Beanpot, everytime we go into a game against a Boston team it gets us fired up because we want to rule the city, if you will,” Adams said. “We look forward to playing Hofstra. We have lost to them in the playoffs a couple times in my career here so that always lights a fire under you.”

It has been a long 15 months since the Huskies fell to Elon in the CAA tournament. However, since the two teams do not play each other in the regular season, their potential rematch would have to come in the playoffs. The Huskies will have to wait a couple more months until they get their chance at revenge. 

“Losing to Elon last year hurt. If we are able to play them this year, I’m sure we’ll be fired up. Trying to take care of unfinished business in that respect,” Adams said.