Forwards headline record-breaking season for women’s soccer
The MIT women’s soccer team closed out a record-breaking season with 1-0 loss to Middlebury College in the first round of the NCAA playoffs. The Engineers recorded a program-high 17 victories this season, scoring in all but the first and last games of the season. MIT finished runners-up in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament after tying for first place in the regular season.
Individually, forward Olivia Struckman ’18 won the NEWMAC player of the year award, to cap off a season where she tied for the most goals on the team (eight) in addition to six assists. Goalie Lauren Ullmann ’17 set a program record for the most wins (54) in a career.
The Engineers came into the season fired up, following last season’s heartbreaking loss via penalty shootout in the NEWMAC tournament semifinals. Things didn’t quite go according to plan following a tough 2-1 in loss in double overtime to WPI in the season’s first conference game.
“Glad that it happened early on because it brought us closer as a team. We realized we needed to bring a certain amount of energy to each game. We were fighting for each other. We were able overcome that early loss and turn our season around,” Struckman reflected on that loss.
The turnaround was quick and ushered in a dominant stretch for the Engineers, where they won seven in a row including six straight shutouts. While an experienced defense anchored by Ullmann between the sticks brought stability to the team, the signature of the team had to be fireworks produced by the “fantastic fourwards” — Struckman, Montana Reilly ’20, Emily Berzolla ’20, and Amy Apostol ’19.
The formidable four were responsible for more than half of the 54 goals the Engineers managed over the course of the season at a rate of 2.25 goals per game.
“It was a lot of fun,” Struckman remarked about playing together. “We are very different players with different styles of play. “It’s cool that no defense can prepare for one style of play. I haven’t seen that much variety of attack on this team in the past.”
The one frontier that remained insurmountable for the Engineers was the NEWMAC championship. Nemesis from earlier on in the season, WPI, managed to get the better of MIT once again.
“There is less room for error. You only get one chance. Any team can win — it is just who wants it more,” Struckman said, when asked what the team learned from the experience of having played in the knockout tournament.
There will be plenty to look forward to in the coming season as the Engineers look to conquer the final frontier. The “fantastic fourwards” will all be back. Not that the attack needed to be sharper, but Allie Hrabchak ’18, the team leader in goals and NEWMAC rookie of the year in 2015 will be back too, having missed significant a portion of this season with injury.