Women’s Soccer Makes History

by The Cowl Editor on November 18, 2021

Friar Sports

By Luke Sweeney ’24

Sports Staff

Saturday marked the tumultuous end to an excellent season for the Providence College Women’s Soccer team. The summer and fall came with many ups and downs, including big wins against multiple big-time programs.

Although their postseason was cut short, the women’s soccer team received a bid to be selected to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 28 years. This season was monumental for the team, and the chemistry among the girls was noticeable to opposing coaching staff and Friar fans everywhere.

Amber Birchwell ’22GS (above) has been one of the Friars’ key players throughout her time playing under Coach Sam Lopes. She started all 20 games for the PC Women’s Soccer this season.
Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

Being matched up against the NCAA champion Hofstra Pride was not an easy task for the Friars, even after gaining momentum in the later parts of the regular season. The girls were able to pull out two huge wins against DePaul University and Seton Hall University in the last two regular season games of the year. After a very close loss to St. John’s University in the first round of the Big East Tournament, the PC Women’s Soccer team was awarded a chance to compete for a national championship in the NCAA tournament.

Members of the Friars women’s soccer team credit the team’s success this year to good team chemistry, an excellent coaching staff, and total dedication from every member of the team. It is rare that the Friars find themselves facing a team with more talent than them, so it was important this year for every member to know that hard work and perfect team-play would win them the games they needed. When asked prior to their game against Hofstra, midfielder Alexis Rothman ’23 gave her thoughts: “Every game is a hard game, and every team is going to be really hard but we just have to stick to what we are used to. Stick to what we do as a team and that’s all that we can control.”

Coach Sam Lopes has led the PC Women’s Soccer team to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 28 years.
Photo Courtesy of New England Soccer Journal

Gillian Kenney ’25 had the first scoring chance of the game but sent the shot wide. Goaltender Emma Bodmer ’24 had her first save of the game in the 21st minute, but it was soon spoiled when Hofstra’s Georgia Brown scored at 27’. Less than 10 minutes later, the Pride hit the back of the net again to make it a 2-0 game. The Friars pressed on into the second half before there was a weather delay due to lightning in the area. At 57’, Hofstra scored once again, making it 3-0 as the final score on Saturday, Nov. 13.

Starter Meg Hughes ’24 had three shots during the game, two of them on goal. Hughes had a terrific second season with the women’s soccer team, remaining one of the Friars’ top threats. When asked about her thoughts on the season, she gave us a positive answer and outlook on next year: “I was happy with the outcome of the season. Really happy to get our first tournament appearance in 28 years. I’m still a little disappointed with the loss, but overall, really pleased with how the season turned out. For next year, some goals would be to make it back to the NCAA tournament and to make it further into the Big East tournament.”

The bond between the girls on the team was crucial to their success and gave them their first postseason opportunity in a long time.

Women’s Soccer: Success & Heartbreak

by Joshua Lopes on April 22, 2021

Friar Sports

Despite Outstanding Season, Women’s Soccer Falls Short of Playoffs

By Ryan Carius ’21

Sports Staff

On April 12, the Providence College Women’s Soccer Team concluded a tremendous season. Their draw against St. John’s University cemented a final record of 7-2-3. PC came heartbreakingly close to competing for the Big East tournament, but missed out even with a strong record because of new tournament requirements adopted for the altered season. In addition to this season being played in the spring, as opposed to the normal fall season, entrance to the Big East tournament was determined by winning percentage, not overall record. The conference was also then split into two divisions, with only two teams receiving a bid from each division.  

Although the Friars missed the tournament, coach Sam Lopes praised the team for their tireless effort throughout the spring: “It was a very successful season, and a lot of it can be attributed to the talent that exists in the group and our depth.” During the duration of the 90-minute games, Lopes was able to confidently utilize 21 players, all capable of playing and helping the team win.

Coach Sam Lopes walking on Chapey Field in parka.
Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

Lopes also remains optimistic about a season that was filled with success: “The group is certainly disappointed, but I don’t think that erases the success that we had and also the level of excitement that we have going towards our fall season because we know what we are capable of.”

The record is impressive in itself, but it is made more so when considering the uncertainty born out of the shift from the fall to the spring season, and more importantly, an offseason training program in the winter. However, the offseason proved to be vital for creating team chemistry after nearly a year of instability. “All the new players and all the returning players got a semester to some capacity to train and develop some relationships with each other before having to play a competitive match,” said Lopes as he explained the benefits of the long offseason. As tough as training in the harsh winter conditions and acclimating to warmer spring temperatures can be, Lopes believes that “the spring showcased that level of connection amongst the group from a fall semester of training.”

That group was filled with freshmen who had the tall task of replacing a strong roster of graduating seniors. They did just that, playing to the standard set by the previous year’s players. Goalkeeper Emma Bodmer ’24, in particular, had to replace Friar legend Shelby Hogan ’20RS. Throughout the season, Bodmer proved to be a worthy successor to Hogan, achieving great success in just her first year at the collegiate level. 

Lopes praised Bodmer’s abilities in the net, saying that “we just felt Emma had a level of confidence and presence about her.” After “spending some time with her in the fall, we felt that she would be equally capable of the job in goal as Shelby [Hogan] had been in the past.” 

Along with Bodmer’s tremendous play, Meg Hughes ’24 was voted Big East Freshman of the Year, becoming only the second PC women’s soccer player to ever receive the honor. Hughes led the Friars in points with 12, assists with six, and tied for the team lead in goals scored alongside Amber Birchwell ’21 with four. Lopes was not at all surprised by Hughes’ receiving the honor, saying that it was “really telling of her capabilities and the amount of respect that she has already earned among her peers in the league.” 

In addition to both Bodmer and Hughes, Lopes lauded the play of the six other Friar freshmen, who each had a large impact on the season. Lopes expressed great enthusiasm for the return of these players in the fall. “Those eight individuals have come in and already established themselves within our program, and have developed an understanding of what it takes to compete at this level,” explained Lopes. “I think they will be really instrumental as we continue to be on this consistent successful trajectory.”

Also vital to the team’s success were its seniors. They played the role of establishing the winning standard of the team, constantly driving up the level of play that would lead to the program’s ultimate success. Lopes highlighted the contributions of the seniors who “did an unbelievable job in helping the new players to get settled in and really helped educate them about who we are and our cultural values.” With the extra year of eligibility option for seniors, some will be returning for the fall season, ensuring that at least some of the team’s leadership will still be around next year as well.  

When asked about his goals for next season, Lopes explained that it is about the daily battles that will ultimately decide the team’s success. “What we are working towards is being a winner consistently day in and day out,” he explained. “We took significant steps towards that this year.” From this response, it is no surprise that the Friars were able to have a great season in a competitive division such as the Big East.

As PC turns their focus to next season, it is safe to say that they will most certainly be in the mix for a Big East title. “I think we have the talent and I think we have the right fixture of players, but more importantly I think we have the right attitude for it,” said Lopes confidently. 

With the majority of players from this season returning, the right attitude in place, and an inspiring coach, it will be exciting for the student body to attend a full slate of games in person this fall season. Lopes proudly stated, “I think now we have established a program that is nationally competitive, and for us in a highly competitive league, we want the next step to be being competitive to win the Big East.” 

The Friars certainly showed the potential to do just that this spring, and with a hopefully normal season set for the fall, the sky is the limit for Lopes and the Friars.