STANDISH, Maine – The Saint Joseph's College women's soccer team is off to a 2-0 start for the first time since the 2013 season.
The Monks kicked off the 2018 campaign with 1-0 victories over University of New England and Husson University last weekend and head into Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) play with a full head of steam. The Monks open GNAC play tomorrow with a 2:30 PM game at University of Saint Joseph (CT).
STARTS AT THE TOP:
Jenelle Harris, a two-time GNAC Coach of the Year recipient, is currently in her sixth season as the Monks' head coach and guided the Royal Blue to a 13-6-1 overall record with a 7-3-1 mark in GNAC play en route to earning the #4 seed in the GNAC Tournament last fall.
WHERE WE LEFT OFF:
As the #4 seed in the conference tournament, the Monks advanced to the semifinal round for the second-consecutive season with a 4-0 first-round triumph over #5 University of Saint Joseph (Conn.). The 2017 campaign came to a close with a 3-1 setback at the hands of top-seeded Lasell College, the eventual GNAC champion, on October 31st.
Saint Joseph's lost a good deal of production and veteran leadership from last year's side, as defender Emily DeLuca, midfielders Lauren Stiles and Sarah Comtois, and goalkeeper Brooke Troup graduated last May. DeLuca was a First Team All-GNAC and All-New England selection last fall, Troup and Comtois were two-time All-Conference honorees, and Stiles was a two-year starter. All four will be missed as younger players look to help fill their roles this fall.
Senior Haley DaGraca (Saco, Maine) leads the Monks' returning corps and is poised to obliterate the SJC women's soccer offensive records this fall. Already the SJC career leader in goals (51), game winning goals (14), and shots (295), the three-time First Team All-GNAC honoree heads into the weekend just three points shy of the Monks' career points record (115, Kathy Britton '93).
Senior midfielder Colleen Sheehan (Medway, Mass.) looks to build off a solid junior season, during which she tallied three goals and a team-high seven assists, while junior forward Hannah Butler (Melrose, Mass.) and sophomore forward Brenna Smith (Maynard, Mass.) netted five goals apiece last fall and figure to improve on their production in 2018.
NEWCOMERS TO WATCH:
Coach Harris has brought in another stellar freshman class and several first-year players figure to log significant time this fall. Adia Grogan (Kennebunk, Maine), a standout goalkeeper from Kennebunk High School, will start in goal and already has a pair of shutouts under belt. Kayley Mattos (Mahopac, N.Y.) is a quick forward who earned All-League and All-Section honors during her junior and senior seasons at Mahopac High School. Midfielders Eilidh Sidaway (Dedham, Maine) and Elizabeth Flynn (Kennebunk, Maine) are heady players who garnered numerous accolades during their high school careers.
GAMES TO SEE:
Sep. 16 at University of Southern Maine: The Monks travel to nearby Gorham for the annual rivalry match as the Huskies look to get payback for a 5-0 setback at the hands of the Royal Blue last fall. Off to a 3-0 start, USM looks to be a tough out this season.
Oct. 03 vs. Lasell College: This conference game has been circled on the Monks' calendar since the Royal Blue suffered their second GNAC Tournament semifinal loss at the hands of the Lasers in as many years last Halloween. Saint Joseph's has not defeated Lasell since October 15th, 2011 and enters this year's matchup having lost seven-consecutive games to the Lasers, who have earned eight straight GNAC Championships.
Oct. 17 vs. Colby-Sawyer: Saint Joseph's hosts new conference foe Colby-Sawyer College in a late-season matchup that will almost certainly feature playoff implications. These two teams have not met since the 2003 campaign, but fans should look for this rivalry to be renewed as the Chargers were a consistent contender in the North Atlantic Conference and went 12-3-1 in 2017.