Women's soccer coach Deb Raber attributes the team's winning season to its senior players. From the start, "They set the tone," she said.
The team not only went undefeated for 15 straight games, they won the MASCAC championship, which earned them the first seed for the conference tournament. Although they were upset by Bridgewater State in a penalty-kick shoot out, the Trailblazers also received a fifth seed in the New England ECAC tournament, where they went on to play in the final four.
According to Danielle Parenteau '11, the highlight of the season was winning the MASCAC championship. "We worked so hard for it and seeing the clock run down was one of the best feelings I've ever had."
The season also stood out for the hard work the student-athletes put in. "We made it a goal that every single time we had an opportunity to step out on the field - be it for practice or a game - they were going to give everything they had," Raber said.
"I think I've shown my teammates what it looks like to want something so bad that you'll do anything for it," Parenteau said. "I tried to give 100 percent in every game and practice. Overall, I hope I taught the girls what it takes to be a leader."
Her experience on the soccer team has taught her perseverance, Parenteau said.
"Our first year here was a step in the right direction, but we've only gotten better since then. We realized that we had what it took to bring home a championship to MCLA and after four years here we finally did it," Parenteau said. "Sam (Miller '11), Jess (Tietgens '11 pictured left), Lizzie (Ryan '11), and I have been talking about how we wanted a championship since freshman year. It finally paid off due to the hard work from every single player and Coach."
According to Raber, "It says a lot for these seniors that three out of the four years they've been here I've been named Coach of the Year. That's a testament to them."
But perhaps best of all, being on the team has given the student-athletes a family away from home.
"I know that when I graduate, I'll still have those girls to lean on," Parenteau said. "Some of my best friends are on the team and I can honestly say that I've never played for a team that had such good chemistry as we did this year. The coaching staff was incredible as well."
Ryan agreed, "I give most of our success to Coach Raber. In all of my 12 years of playing soccer I have never had such a great coach. She not only understands the game better than any other coach, but is also a fun person. I attribute our success to such good team chemistry. We are such a close group of women, with hard working attitudes, who will do anything for one another."
"Coach was like a second mom to all of us," Parenteau said. "Last year when I broke my wrist, I was really sick in the middle of the night and Coach came over to campus at 3 a.m. to make sure I was okay. I doubt you'd find that anywhere else. Everyone cares so much about each other and it's made my four years here an incredible experience."
When Ryan's mother was injured in a serious car accident, the entire team, Raber, and MCLA President Mary Grant supported her by visiting her mother in the hospital.
"I really felt so touched knowing how much support I had around me. My mom's room was filled with flowers and cards sent from my teammates and their families," Ryan said.