Women’s soccer features fresh faces, high hopes

The women’s soccer team features 12 new faces this season, including 11 freshmen. But based on what coaches have seen thus far, the word around preseason workouts hasn’t been “young.” It’s been “depth.”

“This is the deepest team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said head coach Tracey Leone, who has led the Huskies since 2010. “Our newcomers comprise a very talented group and they’ll add a great deal of depth to our team.

“We play so many games in such a short amount of time,” she added. “It’s a grueling season, so that will really help us.”

The newcomers didn’t take long to break through. Freshman forward Haley Sinclair netted both of the Huskies’ goals in the first exhibition game against the Boston Breakers on Aug. 11.

Along with the infusion of new talent, Leone has observed another welcome sight this preseason: Across the board, players showed up for workouts in phenomenal shape. Coaches were impressed by their performance in fitness drills starting with the first day of training, she said, crediting the success to the group’s commitment to working out and playing competitively over the summer.

Senior captain Hanna Terry agreed. On a recent day off, Terry wandered into Cabot Cage to find a group of freshmen working on their shooting and footwork. She also noted that players have been running extra laps and joining their teammates in running drills to improve their conditioning.

Goalkeeper Paige Burnett returns this season after earning an All-CAA third team nod last season.

Goalkeeper Paige Burnett returns this season after earning an All-CAA third team nod last season.

Now, with the team’s season opener looming on Friday, it’s a matter of translating that commitment to on-field success.

Terry is joined this season by an accomplished group of returning veterans who will help lead and mentor their younger teammates. Among them is goalkeeper Paige Burnett, who last season compiled a 1.49 goals against average, five shutouts, and a .752 save percentage en route to earning an All-CAA third team nod. Another is midfielder Hannah O’Donnell, the team’s top returning points leader who recorded four goals and six assists last season.

Terry and O’Donnell netted a goal apiece in the team’s final preseason game, a 2-2 tie with Colgate last Sunday.

The team’s 2012 season ended in heartbreaking fashion last fall, when the Huskies lost in the CAA tournament to Hofstra on penalty kicks. But Terry said the loss has served as motivation.

“Everyone saw potential that we had,” she said. “We’re using it as fuel this season.”

Last season, the Huskies (9-9-1) faced six teams in their first seven games that earned NCAA tournament bids. The team went 1-6 in those games, but the tough schedule prepared the Huskies for conference play, in which they compiled a 7-3 record.

This season, Northeastern’s nonconference schedule is just as challenging—starting with a road game against No. 5 UCLA in the season opener. That contest is the first in a two-game set in California. After playing UCLA, the Huskies will face Loyola Marymount on Sunday.

The team will then face Northwestern in its home opener at Parsons Field on Friday, Aug. 30 at 6 p.m. Conference play for the Huskies begins Sept. 27 with a road game at the College of Charleston.

“Our conference is strong, and the margin of error is going to be tiny within those games,” Terry said. “We’re striving to be the team that’s consistent. Everything in our out-of-conference schedule will be prepare us for those in-conference.”

Check out this Northeastern Athletics video profile on senior captain Hanna Terry: