By Andrew Smith
Women’s soccer finished 2022 with an exceptional winning record of 12-6-2 and a near-perfect conference record of 8-2-2. A seven-game streak without registering a loss propelled the Panthers into the playoffs and even the NCAA Tournament.
In the playoffs, women’s soccer defeated #6 seed Bentley University and #2 seed Franklin Pierce University, setting up the championship game against The College of Saint Rose. Sadly, the Golden Knights of Saint Rose defeated the Panthers by a score of 4-0. However, this wonderful learning experience will encourage and inspire the Panthers this season.
“Even though we didn’t achieve the outcome we wanted, I was proud of the team's work ethic and perseverance to get to that point,” said sophomore Madison Apicella, who is from Holbrook, NY.
Unfortunately, the Panthers couldn’t defeat Mercy College in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Apicella added, “Competing in the tournament was a very cool experience. During my first season, I learned a lot about college athletics and I am proud to say I can be a part of it.”
The exercise science major was dominant in her debut season. The midfielder/forward won several prestigious honors, including NE10 Player of the Year, NE10 Rookie of the Year and NE10 All-Conference First Team. Apicella is only the second player in conference history (NE10) to earn both Player and Rookie of the Year in the same season.
Junior Lola Kochanskyj looked back on last season and shared many positive thoughts. “I would say a huge takeaway was that no matter what part you played on the team, whether that be killing it on the field and giving everything you have or being extremely hype and positive from the sidelines, each role played equally into our success as a team,” she said.
While reflecting on improving her game in the offseason, Apicella emphasized the importance of her fitness level, which will prepare her for the challenging battles ahead.
“I think the team and myself made it a goal to come into preseason even more fit than last year. Everyone came in this year ready and prepared,” Apicella noted.
Kochanskyj, a psychology major, added, “For me, it was a time to figure out chemistry with some of my teammates and establish a place for myself in the lineup. It is very difficult to show what you have individually in season, especially because we constantly have game prep practices and are always on the road. The spring is the time to develop individual skills and see what works best for the team, as well as having a bit more fun with fully expressing ourselves as players.”
This commitment has already paid off for the Panthers, who have opened the season by winning three out of their first four games. One of these matches was against Mercy College and the Panthers had an opportunity to redeem themselves. The Panthers defeated the Mavericks on Sept. 12 by a score of 1-0 thanks to a game-winning goal on a penalty kick courtesy of senior defender Morgan Salmon.
Apicella is also picking up right where she left off in 2022 by tallying two goals in the opening four matches, with one of them as the game-winner against Molloy University and 17 total shots. Apicella is wasting no time this season and is prepared for any challenge on the field.
Both athletes already have their eyes set on the season's final game when the Panthers travel to Albany on Nov. 1 to take on the very talented College of Saint Rose, who eliminated them from championship contention in 2022. This will be an incredible rematch, which the Panthers are looking forward to.
Women’s soccer has proven that their hard work in the offseason is paying off, and they are more than ready to take on top-level competition once again. Come out and support our Panthers at Motamed Field.