UMaine-Farmginton’s McKenna Brodeur runs with ball toward an eventual score against Thomas in the first half of Sunday’s NAC championship game in Waterville. Thomas’ Taznae Fubler is at left. (David Leaming/Morning Sentinel)
After a difficult start to the season, the University of Maine at Farmington women’s soccer team courageously did an about-face, won a majority of their conference games and now the Beavers now find themselves in the midst of the the NCAA Division III playoffs.
The Beavers (8-12) will face host Middlebury College (15-1-2) in Vermont on Saturday at 11 a.m.
“We intentionally play a tough non-conference schedule, and because of that, our win-loss record doesn’t look pretty,” UMF women’s soccer coach Molly Wilkie said. “What didn’t change was that our goal before preseason even began was to be NAC champions. There were certainly some tough days along the way, but we continued to preach to our team that our goal wasn’t to have the best win-loss record. It was to make playoffs and then win the championship.
“The success was coming, this wasn’t a last minute surprise. It was the result of buying into the process, staying the course, and believing in each other.”
Wilkie knows the Middlebury Panthers are indeed a formidable team.
“We will prepare for them as we would for any other game,” she said. “We understand the challenge ahead of us and we welcome it.”
But before the Beavers earned an NCAA playoff bid, they needed to win the North Atlantic Conference.
UMF stunned Thomas College with a 3-1 victory to advance to the national tournament. Middlebury (15-1-2) qualified for the NCAA Tournament with an upset over 2017 National Champion Williams College to win the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) tournament.
McKenna Brodeur, Hadlee Yescott and Lydia Roy each scored a goal to steer the Beavers past Thomas.
UMF’s Brodeur, Yescott and Ashley Gleason were named to the all-tournament team, and Roy was named tourney MVP.
“Our team is made up of incredibly confident and resilient women who love and value each other on and off the field,” Wilkie said. “I’m honored and proud to be able to coach this group of women and excited we have (at least) one more week together.”
UMF’s Lydia Roy (10) watches her shot go to the left of NVL goalie Victoria McCormack (1) as her teammates Kelsey Jacobs (23) and EmmaLee Smith (7) race in to try and stop Roy in a regular-season, North Atlantic Conference soccer finale at Leib Field in Farmington on a cloudy and cold Tuesday. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)