The Sacred Heart women’s soccer team is nearing the end of the 2021 season. Currently, the Sacred Heart Pioneers stand at 6-6-2 on the season.
Sacred Heart sits in fifth place in the Northeast Conference (NEC) standings.
“The team has continued along the journey we started three years ago,” said head coach Matt Micros. “The junior class that broke in as freshmen have done extremely well, especially when you consider they basically lost a year of valuable experience due to Covid.”
The Pioneers recently defeated Howard University, a team that sits one spot ahead of them in the standings.
“Going into the Howard game we knew that we needed to continue to win in order to make the playoffs,” said junior forward/midfielder Desiree Crawford. “The team was pretty pumped both on and off the field. I was really excited to score a goal in the first half and help the team win the game.”
A win against a higher ranked team has put the Pioneers in a position to make an early November playoff push.
“Our hope when the season began was to make it back into the playoffs for the second consecutive full season and with two games remaining, it is still a goal that is within reach,” said Micros.
Crawford mentioned that the team’s support on and off the field has been an intangible advantage all season long.
Sacred Heart most recently picked up a 1-0 shutout win against Long Island University (LIU) Sharks, improving their home record to 5-1-1. Junior goalkeeper Elyssa Kipperman earned her third shutout of the season.
Junior forward Anna Ludkiewicz notched her first goal of the season with two minutes left against the Sharks, keeping the Pioneers playoff hopes alive.
“I was very relieved after scoring in the LIU game,” said Ludkiewicz. “We had 28 chances that game so it felt like the goal was coming any minute the entire game.”
The win marks the sixth year in a row that the Pioneers have defeated the Sharks.
“The expectations are to continue to work hard together. Be the hardest working team on the field at all times and success will follow,” said Micros. “We emphasize improving as individuals in a team setting. Work hard. Play smart. Do things the right way. And the winning will take care of itself.”
The Pioneers faced the second-seeded Bryant University Bulldogs on their home turf in their final game of the regular season for senior day on Sunday, Oct. 31 at Park Ave. Field in Fairfield, Conn.
“Overall this season I have been grateful to contribute to my team’s success. This season everyone came together and played with a lot of heart to be successful,” said Crawford. “We constantly have worked hard and pushed each other to be better. I hope to continue to work hard alongside my teammates and make it to the playoffs.”
Behind freshman Grace O’Hara’s two goals and Kipperman’s just one goal allowed, the Pioneers took a 4-1 victory over the Bulldogs that earned them a trip to the NEC semifinals versus Fairleigh Dickinson on Nov. 5.
This is the Pioneers 12th appearance in the NEC playoffs as a program, according to the northeastconference.org.
Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article. This article was edited on Nov. 2 2021