From 1994-99 Franklin Pierce was THE team in Division II women’s soccer, winning five National Championships in six years, including a four-year stretch of consecutive titles. Since then, the Ravens have made it to the final game twice (2003, 2007), but haven’t reached their former glory.
Entering the 2015 season, Franklin Pierce is sitting at BR-26 and is coming off a season in which the squad posted a disappointing 11-6-1 record — which isn’t too bad generally speaking, but is when you consider the school’s storied past.
The Ravens are picked to finish fourth in the Northeast-10 by both Hero Sports and the preseason coaches poll. There is a strong chance that the team can fare better and make a strong run in the league, but it will take quite a bit of luck and a ton of new-found talent to topple BR-3 Saint Rose, who is a powerhouse in the conference and in the country.
Leading Franklin Pierce on the pitch this season is senior forward Kaycee Pereia, who scored six goals and had five assists with 28 shots and 17 on goal during her junior campaign. Joining her is junior Madison Finlay (5 goals, 7 assists), sophomore Nalina Valaydon (5 goals) and senior Hannah Weagle (3 goals, 1 assist).
On the defensive end, there’s ‘keeper Casey Cook, who started 16 games between the posts and gave up just 14 goals for a 0.86 per game average with 6 shutouts and 46 saves. This is a goalie that can be in the running for Keeper of the Year in the league for the next three years.
The biggest loss to the roster is leading scorer Talita Pereira, who had 8 goals and two assists last year.
With 21 returning players and five newcomers, this team has the experience needed throughout its roster to make a move. One of the biggest names among the fresh faces is graduate student Amber Dempster of Belfast, Ireland. Dempster and her former team, Ulster University Jordanstown, earned All-Ireland Champions in 2013 and 2015. This is a player to watch this season.
Among the other new players on the team are freshmen Amber Francois, Alison Stanlewicz, Nathalia Maria da Silva and Kallie Crumbaker.
If anyone can lead Franklin Pierce back to prominence, it’s the man that led them to greatness the first time around — Jeff Bailey. The longtime skipper boarded the ship in 1996 and has went 315-63-26 in 19 seasons, winning the NSCAA New England Region Coach of the Year five times (1998, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006). Entering his second decade at the helm, Bailey will look to recreate the magic that saw the New Hampshire-based university become a dominant force in the United States.
The Ravens kick off their season with a home game against Felician on Sept. 5 at 3 p.m.