The 2014 season proved to be, historically, a best for the UMBC Retrievers women’s soccer team, earning a school best 8-2 non-conference record. The Retrievers are expecting to continue their rise this season, with a preseason coach’s poll ranking them third in the America East Conference.
The team will have to overcome the loss of several key players last season. They are now without several underclassmen who transferred, in addition to five starting seniors from last season.
Head Coach Leslie Wray understands that losing so many influential players will be a struggle this season, but is looking forward to the fresh start it will provide the team.
“This year is going to be a challenge right from the beginning,” said Wray. “After losing five starting seniors last year and some underclassmen that transferred, we have a new team and an entirely new dynamic from last fall. We are looking forward to this fresh start that we have with the players that are coming in, the young returners and some key veterans.”
“We are a brand new team,” Wray said. “We are going to have veteran players play in significant roles. I’m happy with the returners that have come back and the energy that we are getting from them. In addition, we have a lot of newcomers that are going to be able to play significant roles on the team.”
One of the former seniors was the impactful Jessy Brown, who had a team high of seven goals last season, and was second on the team with five assists. Alongside fellow senior midfielders Lily Rydon and Paige Preston, the Retrievers boasted a midfield with 16 goals and eight assists. 15 of the 16 of these goals were scored by the former seniors. Brown was also a two-time America East Midfielder of the Year.
Replacing the powerhouse trio will prove to be a challenge for the team. Only three of the team’s midfielders have any collegiate experience: sophomores Gabby Boehmer, Nicole Delabrer and senior Amira Walcott. Walcott brings the most experience as a defender, earning America East All-Conference recognition each of her past two seasons. The Retrievers are expecting Boehmer to assist the team in scoring. Boehmer was the only Retriever midfielder outside of last year’s senior trio to score a goal last season. Delabrer is coming back from an injury-plagued season last year that saw her only able to play two games. Overcoming the losses to the midfield will definitely be one of the most challenging parts to this season.
“That is where we are youngest,” said Wray. “But that’s where I feel where our ball handling skills are going to get better. We are going to miss having a two-time midfielder of the year and it is going to be hard to play without that, but we are going to have to find a different way and a different style to play through our midfield than in years past, which is exciting and scary at the same time.”
Voting for the preseason poll was done by the head coaches of the conference’s nine teams, however, coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. The Retrievers received one first place vote along with their 50 total votes. New Hampshire University, the league’s reigning tournament champions, received 63 votes, ranking them first. Just ahead of the Retrievers, Hartford University is ranked second with 52 votes.