The Sacred Heart University women’s soccer team opened Northeast Conference (NEC) play on Thursday, Sept. 15 with a 1-1 tie against Stonehill College. The Pioneers now sit at 3-3-2 overall and 0-0-1 in conference play.
Head Coach Matt Micros is at the helm for his fifth year with the program, and has seen the Pioneers vastly improve upon the successes of every previous season.
“Each year we’re looking to get a little better,” said Micros. “Our first year we came in seventh, then we came in fourth, last year was third, and we’re hoping to make the finals this year and challenge for the title.”
Micros credited the team’s senior leadership for the tremendous strides the program has taken, noting how valuable their experience has been for the younger players. Senior forward Meadow Mancini had a crucial goal in the 3-1 victory over the University of Delaware on Sunday, Sept. 11.
Mancini offered high praise for the freshman class and the work ethic they have shown.
“I think they really just bring it, we’re all hungry to play,” said Mancini. “We all really push each other.”
Freshman forward Morgan Bovardi has had an immediate impact in her first few weeks in Fairfield. Through eight games, Bovardi is the lead scorer for the Pioneers.
“Morgan has stepped in and really done a nice job in short order,” said Micros.
With conference play in full swing, the Pioneers will continue to rely on strong defense and goaltending from senior goalie Elyssa Kipperman.
A four-year starter, Kipperman has accumulated three shutouts already this season, two of them coming in victories over Manhattan College and St. John’s University.
Kipperman, one of the Pioneer captains, had some advice for her teammates as they prepare for their conference schedule.
“Always keep working hard, no matter what,” said Kipperman. “Keep your head up and stay positive.” .
Th game against Manhattan on Thursday, Sept. 8 was not like the other games on their schedule. The team raised awareness for pediatric cancer by raising over $2,500 through a fundraiser that directly supports the eradication of childhood cancer.
Every player could be spotted sporting gold laces, a symbol for the fight against pediatric cancer.
“It’s something that hits home with everybody,” said Micros. “That’s a cause that you want to try and help support in any way.”
An embodiment of dependability, senior captain Anna Ludkiewicz has started every game in the past two seasons. Ludkiewicz had some advice about acclimating the younger players to the college game, as well as having the right mindset down the stretch of the season.
“Transitioning from high school to college is a big change in the pace of the game,” said Ludkiewicz. “I think they’ve all adjusted really quickly.”
With all of the positives coming into the season, Micros still believes there is work to be done.
“We’ve been inconsistent,” said Micros. “Going into conference play, that’s the one thing that we’re working on; being more consistent with our effort and our performance.”
The Pioneers will look for more consistency when they face Long Island University in Brooklyn on Sept. 18 before returning home to the Park Ave. Field on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. against the University of Maine.
Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.