BABSON PARK, Mass.—After winning 12 matches, its most since 2001, and reaching the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament semifinals for the third straight year, the Babson College women's soccer program enters the 2015 campaign as a conference-title contender.
Under the direction of sixth-year head coach Nellie Pineault, the Beavers went 12-4-3 overall and 6-2-2 in the NEWMAC last season. Despite the loss of five seniors, including top scorer Jess DiPhilippo '15, the Green and White returns eight players that started at least 11 matches and 12 letterwinners overall.
Babson, which has 11 first-year players on the roster, will lean heavily on a pair of returning All-NEWMAC performers in senior Meghan Tyson (Scarborough, Maine) and junior Jennifer Narlee (Medfield, Mass.). Tyson had a breakout 2014 campaign, scoring a career-high seven goals to go along with two assists to finish second on the team in scoring, while Narlee has started all 38 matches over the last two seasons and notched a pair of game-winning goals last fall.
Sophomore midfielders Kelsey Ford (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) and Victoria Penta (Belmont, Mass.) are both coming off solid debut campaigns that saw them score four goals apiece while starting all but two matches last fall. The midfield should also get a boost from junior transfer Taylor Goldsborough (Williston, Vt.), who played 36 games at St. Lawrence University over the last two seasons, and sophomore Meghan Lee (Stow, Mass.), who made 11 appearances before suffering a season-ending injury last year.
The defense returns three starters, led by the senior duo of Leisl Bard (Agawam, Mass.) and Kristina Simonson (Easton, Mass.). Sophomore Colleen Beggan (Medfield, Mass.) started 11 of the final 13 matches, while senior Rachel Siegel (Longmeadow, Mass.) made eight appearances, including five starts, last fall for the Green and White.
Offensively, Babson returns three forwards to play alongside Tyson. Juniors Marissa Endow (Worcester, Mass.) and Olivia Kerester (Chappaqua, N.Y.) have combined for five goals in 29 starts over the last two years, while sophomore Jackie Paul (Winchester, Mass.) should see an expanded role this fall.
With the season opener less than a week away, Pineault has been pleased with the squad's training thus far. "We've had a great start and it's evident how hard the team worked in the off-season. Our returners have played a significant role with taking our large class of first-year players under their wing and teaching them what it means to be a part of Babson soccer. The players support for each has allowed us to develop as a team throughout the first week of preseason and will be a key part of our success going forward."
The Green and White will have one of the toughest schedules in the region this fall as it faces five squads that took part in the 2014 NCAA Tournament in addition to its 10-game NEWMAC slate. Babson, which plays six of its first seven matches at home, opens the year against Bridgewater State University at Hartwell-Rogers Field on Tuesday, September 1, at 4 p.m.