Oct. 10, 2008
BOSTON, MA - Eleven games into the 2008 fall season, the UMass Boston women's soccer team finds itself in a very unique position that until now, they had never been in before. That position, first place in the Little East Conference (LEC). The Beacons boast a 2-0-1 conference record and are off to the second best start in program history with a 5-5-1 overall mark. With their 6-0 victory over Wheelock College on October 10, the squad holds a four-match unbeaten streak, their longest run to date. Eight regular season games remain and so far they have netted 26 goals, only six shy of the program record. If they can capture one more victory, the Beacons will tie the program record for wins in a season at six. Things just keep getting better for the team that many still consider the underdogs, but the way they're playing, you would never know it.
As the total number of goals and wins steadily increase, the confidence level of this young Beacons squad grows every time they take the field. A team that was once considered an easy victory by most opponents has transformed into a fierce competitor, determined to make UMB a contender in the collegiate soccer circuit.
Head Coach Amy Zombeck has had the task of guiding the Beacons along the way, and thus far, has done a terrific job. In her fourth season at the reigns, the New Hampshire native has accumulated 16 wins which ties her for the program record set by Myles Berry who currently coaches the UMB Men's Soccer team. Coming into this season, Zombeck brought in the strongest recruiting class the program had ever seen. Ten new players are now sporting Beacons jerseys and of the ten, seven have seen significant game time action.
"This recruiting class is special. They came in wanting to play and make a difference and that's why they have been able to contribute the way they have," said Zombeck. "This is how you build a program and these women knew that by coming to UMass Boston they'd have the opportunity to immediately step onto the field and play, which may not have been the case at other schools. Part of their reasoning to come and play for the Beacons was to help make a name for our program."
So far, the recruits are not only making a name for the program, but also for themselves.
Freshman forward Kristin Mulry (Holbrook, MA) has led the offensive charge scoring eight goals, a new program record for freshman. Zombeck praises the rookie for her ability to find a way to finish and know her way around the goal. Her play earned her recognition as Rookie of the Week by the LEC during the week of September 22-28 earlier in the season.
Another freshman making large contributions is midfielder Molly Kuchar (Ashville, NC). She is second on the team behind Mulry in total points but more importantly, has been able to control the flow of each game by possessing the ball in the midfield. Kuchar also received Rookie of the Week honors for her efforts during the week of September 1-7.
The presence of freshman defender Samantha Place (Newton, NJ) has been felt in the Beacons' backfield. Place was named the LEC Rookie of the Week during the week of September 29 to October 5 to give the program three top rookie award winners in five weeks -- easily the most in the conference this year. She brings an aggressive style of play to the table every match, going hard for loose balls, making her opponents well aware that she's going to be around for 90 minutes of battle.
"For the program to grow, it's important for us to build around our strengths," said Zombeck. "Right now, our young players are the strength of the team and that's a great sign for the future. It is hard to throw a group together and get them to click right away, but this group is finally starting to come together as one. They are setting the standard for years to come, and it's been fun to watch and be a part of."
So what is the difference between this year's squad and teams of the past? Zombeck believes it's their determination. Every single roster member takes pride in what they are doing and this attitude is something the program has struggled to maintain. The members of this year's team have accepted their roles and in doing so, helped to create an atmosphere that promotes teamwork and unity. Be it on the front lines scoring goals, the goal line making saves or the side line leading cheers from the bench, everyone is contributing in their own way.
With the Little East Conference tournament looming, the Beacons have a real shot at qualifying for post-season play for the first time in school history. Coach Zombeck believes they can make it happen if they continue to do the things they've been working on.
"This team cares; they want to make something happen. At the beginning of the season our goal was to qualify for the LEC playoffs and that hasn't changed. They are putting in work off the field which has made us a better overall team. From day one, the motto this year has been `It's Time to Change History' and we intend to stick to it," said Zombeck.
With a bright future on the horizon for the Beacons, you've got to admit its getting better, getting better all the time.