Leo Hainline ’22
The Providence College Women’s Soccer team has fared well early in the season despite having played a competitive out-of-conference schedule. Their 4-2-1 record has produced many positives in the early part of the season, many of which they will aim to carry over to Big East play.
The Friars opened their season on the road against in-state rival University of Rhode Island, a game that they would draw 1-1. With PC coming off a serviceable 2020-21 campaign and the Rams only winning in two matches the previous season, the Friars were disappointed not to leave Kingston with a victory.
The team bounced back the next game, however, in their home opener against Sacred Heart University, defeating the Pioneers 4-0. The Friars’ attack looked cohesive and showed glimpses of their potential with great team play while also showcasing a beautiful individual effort by Angie Suaza ’23, who scored an absolute beauty by striking the ball from outside the box with power and movement, giving the Sacred Heart goalkeeper zero chance at a save.
PC struggled in their following match against Rutgers University, a team that is currently ranked No. 12 nationally, losing 5-1. However, Coach Sam Lopes’ squad turned their performances around after their tough trip to New Jersey, following the loss to the Scarlet Knights with three consecutive wins against Stony Brook University, Monmouth University, and Boston University. Among these three games, the Friars bagged 12 goals, expressing their attacking capability.
Meg Hughes ’24 helped lead the scoring charge, scoring three goals during this stretch. She also tops the team in scoring, grabbing five in seven games. Her play was recognized as she received Big East Offensive Player of the Week. Hughes’ impressive form is hardly a surprise after she starred for the Friars as a freshman, earning accolades including an All-Big East Second Team selection and a spot on the All-Big Freshman Team. She was also the only Friar selected to the preseason All-Big East Team.
Friars’ goalkeeper Emma Bodmer ’24 also enjoyed a good run of form, earning a spot on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll. The sophomore stopper has enjoyed some standout games so far this season, highlighted by her performance against URI in the Friars’ opener where she saved a total of nine shots. Both Bodmer and Hughes headline a star-studded sophomore class. Forward Kyla Gallagher ’24, midfielders Avery Snead ’24 and Emily McCalligett ’24, and defender Grace Murphy ’24 have also all made significant contributions the Friars team this season.
On Sunday afternoon, PC traveled to the midwest to square off against the University of Wisconsin. The Badgers are projected to finish in the top half of the Big Ten, and this was anticipated to be a closely contested match. Both teams entered with similar records, with the Friars 4-1-1 and the Badgers 4-2-1. Maria Paveglio ’25, a freshman from Lake Orion, Michigan, opened the scoring as she grabbed her second career goal in a Friars uniform. Despite entering halftime with the lead, the Badgers struck back with two quick goals to reclaim control. The scoring would not end here, as the Friars kept applying pressure and forced a Badger own goal to level the match back up. The game would go into extra time, marking Wisconsin’s fourth consecutive extra time match of the season. Unfortunately, the Badgers would grab the golden goal and send the Friars back to Providence empty-handed.
Looking ahead, the Friars culminate their non-conference schedule on Thursday, Sept. 16 at Chapey Field against city rivals Brown University. PC will be eager to enter Big East play coming off a win, especially with 23rd-ranked Xavier looming on their schedule. The Musketeers look to have been underestimated in the Big East Preseason polls, having been predicted to finish No. 7 in the conference. The team hailing from Ohio boasts a perfect 7-0 record, a winning streak that the Friars will be eyeing to cease when they square off in Providence on Sept. 23.
The Friars were projected to finish fourth in the Big East. Such a finish would see them qualifying for the Big East Tournament, which only features four teams. Defending Big East Champions Georgetown University are projected to top the conference, receiving ten of eleven first place votes. Interestingly, the only other team to receive a first place vote was the Providence Friars.
Butler University and University of Connecticut were the other two schools projected to finish above the Friars in conference play. PC will square off against both of these opponents in mid-to-late October.
Although the squad is relatively young, the Friars will rely on a few veterans who could be catalysts for the team’s success this season. Fifth-year senior forwards Amber Birchwell and Hannah McNulty are staples of PC’s attack. Both have provided two assists this season, and Birchwell has provided two goals to her name as well. Christina Rogers ’GS is a rock of the Friars’ backline and will be instrumental in stifling the opponent’s attack. She was an All-Big East Second Team selection this past season.
Alexis Rothmann ’23 is another player to keep an eye on. The Friars’ No. 10 received All-Big East First Team accolades last year, making her the fourth woman ever selected in program history, and was also the youngest to ever be recognized on the First Team for the Friars. Her playing in midfield can dictate much of PC’s success this season and she will have the opportunity to follow up her 2020-21 campaign with another outstanding season.
The Friars have produced great performances so far this preseason, perhaps revealing their potential for this season. This roster has the ability to assert itself permanently in the record books if they can translate these positive performances into conference play.