But the former Lewiston High School standout has come a lot further in her soccer career with the Nor’Easters.

Hamel and her UNE teammates faced off against Bates College in an early season showdown of two winning teams Tuesday at Russell St. field. The Nor’Easters legged out a 2-0 win to hand the Bobcats their first loss of the season. It was the second straight win for the Nor’Easters over Bates after a 19-year drought.

And Hamel was right in the middle of it —  literally. The former Lewiston Blue Devil is a starting midfielder and captain for UNE.

“To go from a walk-on to a captain and a regular starter is a true testament to her work ethic and determination,” UNE women’s coach Heather Davis said.

It’s been a steady process for Hamel to get where she’s at with UNE (5-2). She came from a Lewiston program that won just four games her senior season — an improvement over her junior campaign. She was an an all-conference player in soccer while also playing basketball and lacrosse for Lewiston. Despite being a great athlete, she hadn’t played in a high-level soccer environment from which most college players emerge.

“While she came with a lot of individual skills, and the heart and the grit, she had to grow tactically and learn,” Davis said. “She’s gotten better every time she’s stepped on the field. I’m really proud of her.”


Hamel played in 19 games her first year and earned 11 starts. The following year she started two games and played in 14. She played in 17 games last year. Over her first three seasons, she had two goals and two assists, and already has a goal and an assist this season in seven starts.

“I’ve definitely been working toward this year,” Hamel said. “I’ve worked really hard to have a spot on this team. It’s definitely been a process for everyone. I think we’re stronger now than we’ve ever been. We have a really good team dynamic and we’re all really close.”

Hamel is majoring in psychology at UNE with a minor in mental health rehabilitation. She wasn’t even recruited by the Nor’Easters, but the team quickly found a place for her.

“Kayla came to us sight unseen,” Davis said. “She picked UNE and she came out for the program. Now she’s one of our captains. She’s a real success story. What she’s always brought to the table is a real blue collar work ethic. Because of that, I knew she’d only continue to get better as a player. Now she’s one of our most talented midfielders.”

She’s also taking on a leadership role that she’s worked toward during her career at UNE. 

“That’s something I’ve developed slowly as the years have gone on,” Hamel said.


After progressing the past three seasons, Hamel wants this senior year to be her best. She’s excited about the way the team is playing and the role that she has in the field.

“I’m more confident this year in myself and my teammates than I have any other year,” Hamel said. “So I have high hopes for how I perform this season.”

She also has high expectations for what the Nor’Easters can do. UNE has already started strong, and left Lewiston with a encouraging win.

“We’ve had a really strong start and a better start than in any of the years before,” Hamel said. “So we’re all very hopeful for the season.”

Tuesday offered Hamel a homecoming of sorts. She has often worked out at the Bates track, but never played much on the soccer field there.

“It’s definitely awesome,” Hamel said. “It’s great to be back in my hometown and have my whole team here and nice to have my family here.”


It was even better leaving with a win.

Bates came out strong and dominated the early going, but the Nor’Easters balanced things out late in the first half. The goalkeepers for each club made some key saves to preserve the 0-0 tie. Bates’ Sarah McCarthy finished with eight stops while UNE’s Brielle Robinson had 10 saves. Bates outshot UNE 36-17.

“We were definitely in a little bit of a rut in the beginning,” Hamel said. “I think we pulled out if it really well. It was like a switch that was flipped for the whole team.”

UNE took to the attack in the second half and broke the tie at 2:05. Jessica Meader fed Becca Murphy for a shot that went in off the right post.

Bates had a couple of cracks at the equalizer. Olivia Amdur hit the post on one shot. Then Kyla Rabb put a high shot on net that Robinson had to leap for.

UNE made it 2-0 with 33:04 left. Meader had a rush toward the goal and put a shot on. It was saved by McCarthy, but Murphy got to the rebound and put it home.

“It was probably our hardest game to date,” Hamel said. “It was a real big challenge. All the NESCAC teams are really good. So these are really good games to have on our schedule to prepare for the challenging games we play down the road.”


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