By Adam Hallenbeck & Kaie Quigley – Sports Editor & 1851 Staff
For the first time since 2010, the women’s soccer team has not been the league voted team to beat. According to the GNAC preseason poll, six out of 13 league head coaches believe last year’s winning team— Saint Joseph’s of Maine, will repeat as champions in 2019. This vote comes in spite of the Lasers’ eight conference title wins since 2010.
The women’s soccer team lost their first GNAC title in nine years under the direction of head coach, Vito LaFrancesca, after a 1-0 loss at home. “I felt at first, that it was our [the class of 2022] fault. I think a lot of us felt that way, too. At first we thought, ‘oh, we won for eight straight years, we come in and we get all this way and lose,” said sophomore Serena Speight. Both teams were held scoreless in the game until Haley DaGraca of St. Joe’s of Connecticut hit the lone shot 59:14 into the game, sealing the fate of their championship run.
“The pressure is on everyone to bring it back and to prove that we are still here. I know a lot of people in the conference believe that Lasell is over now and that they are going down hill, so we are just trying to prove that we can bring the cup back home,” said Speight.
This season, Lasell has started off slow with a 3-6 overall record, unable to pick up a win in the first four contests after the disappointing championship loss. After losing five seniors to graduation, including the two-time All New England team selections Carly Zdanek and Sabrina Morais, the Lasers have been looking for an offensive answer. “Last year, we had a group of five strong seniors and they were passionate. They can be aggressive and scary sometimes, but the way they played on the field made you feel like you could do anything,” said Speight. The women’s team only scored eight goals in their first six games to start the season, their lowest in the past four seasons.
However, there should be minimal worrying about the Lasers getting back in the running. The women’s soccer team has maintained greatness for the last decade under LaFrancesca. He has led his team to a 90-7-4 record in GNAC play since their dynastic run began in 2010. That’s an 89.1 percent win- ning. They also sport an 88.9 percent winning in GNAC championship games, going 7-1-1 in their nine title appearances.
First-year starter Bobbi O’Guin spoke on the winning culture here and what it’s like to be a part of it. She said, “it’s nerve wracking. They’ve all been together and been through the championship runs. You have to prove that you want it too.”
When asked about the team’s ability to get back to the title game, O’Guin added, “we’re all pushing ourselves, working really hard. We want it really bad.”
Junior defender Korynne Provenzano is a crucial part of the back line this fall. She saw the celebrations after a GNAC title in 2017 and experienced the heartbreaking loss at home last year in the 2018 finals. “When we won the GNAC championship, it was surreal and I was only a freshman.” She continued, “every year is hard because you can lose key players that have been on the team for four years.”
However, winning is still in their sights in 2019. “Because we lost, I think it lit a fire underneath us. Now we have to really work to get back on top. We are putting everything we got into being back on top with that cup.”
At the end of the day, this group of women is equipped to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors. According to current players, they have every intention to do so.