Working as a team brings an uncontrollable bond to those among it.
As 11 Keene State College senior women’s soccer players enter their final season as an Owl, they reflect on the relationships they have created over the past four years on and off the field.
KSC forward and one of three team captains Taylor Farland said thinking about life without soccer is “scary.”
“I play lacrosse, so I still have a second season in the spring coming too, but just looking at all the girls who were seniors when we were [first-years] as alumni, it’s weird to think we’re going to be in that position in a matter of months,” Farland said.
Along with Farland, KSC outside midfielder Julia Pearson is part of the nine out of 11 women who have played on the team since their first year.
Pearson said the connection they have is what helps them play together so well.
“I’ve been playing with these…11 seniors for four years and it’s definitely bittersweet, but we have such a great connection on the field [and] off the field,” Pearson said.
“Everyone works together really well and the dedication is awesome. We all just really want it and we’re all putting 110 percent effort in.”
KSC center back and center midfielder Marianna Porcello said she does not want to think of her soccer career ending as a negative.
“I definitely have mixed feelings and I don’t want it to end, but at the same time, I have had so many great experiences with it that I am really thankful for those four years. It’s just about making the best of out of all of our ‘lasts,’ like our last home game, our last senior day…that sort of stuff,” Porcello said.
For the season, Farland said the goal for the team is to make it past the first round of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and go back to the Little East Conference Championship (LEC).
KSC forward and outside midfielder Morgan Kathan added to Farland and said she wants the team to win the LEC like they did their first year at KSC.
“Our [first] year, we came in and we won LECs and got to it on our first try, but the last two years we’ve come a little short, so to start and end the same way would be pretty cool, especially with an LEC champ[ionship],” Kathan said.
Both Farland and Kathan agreed that with the unusual amount of seniors on the team this year, it brings an interesting dynamic to how the team operates.
“It definitely brings leadership from a lot of different perspectives and each senior brings a different role to the field and to the team in general,” Farland said.
KSC Women’s Soccer Coach Denise Lyons has been coaching soccer for 24 years, and said this team is unlike one she has worked with before.
With 11 seniors comes an advantage, according to Lyons, for the team to make it to the NCAA this season.
“With 11 seniors, we’ve got a good shot,” Lyons said. “…Every year you’ve got to fight for it, but this year, with that amount of seniors, I think we’ve got a legitimate shot of returning to the NCAA championship.”
Lyons added that the seniors have a lot of experience, which in turn helps the younger players on the team learn to work together as well.
Pearson echoed Lyons, and said the senior girls have become synchronized on the field.
“We started off the season very strong because we already know who has what skills and we play together really well,” Pearson said.
“We’ve been playing together for four years now, so we know who needs the ball to their feet, we know who can run onto the balls and we’ve already had that connection, so it didn’t take us long to learn that.”
With ambition set, KSC center midfielder Gretchen Greene said the whole team knows how much winning means for the seniors’ final season.
“We all want to win. We have that desire, we have that drive,” Greene said. “We want to win LECs and we want to go as far as we can, so I think that’s what is pushing us the most and why we have so much heart and why weren’t not going to give up.”
Olivia Belanger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org