The women’s soccer team brought energy and enthusiasm back to Farley Field for their first New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) game in 18 months. Coming off an 11-0 victory over the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF), the Polar Bears came up short against Amherst College, losing 3-0 on Saturday, September 11.
With limited opportunities to practice last year, midfielder Megan Lymburner ’24 spoke on how the time apart due to the COVID-19 pandemic left the team with less experience and more uncertainty going into the game against Amherst.
“I didn’t really know what to expect, but I knew that the pace was going to be a lot faster,” Lymburner said.
To combat the uncertainty surrounding competition, Captain Aine Lawlor ’21 emphasized that the players are investing in work off the field just as much as on the field.
“We are spending time on individual relationships, conversations about team culture, values, standards and goals,” Lawlor said in an email to the Orient. “We’re just very excited and grateful to be able to play together again.”
However, lingering COVID-19 restrictions, such as limited locker room access, have presented challenges to the team’s ability to prepare for games with music, dance and other high-spirited rituals. This requires players to be more creative in fostering team unity, but the team is rising to the challenge.
“Everyone came in with an optimistic mindset,” Lymburner said. “It’s been going well, we’re just trying to mesh everyone together and figure out where everyone works. Everyone’s been super supportive.”
Lawlor added that the time spent physically apart last year forced players to focus on team bonding early in the season, unlike in past years.
“We feel really good about the work we put in over the past year, which was largely focused on team culture and interpersonal relationships,” Lawlor said.
With a busy schedule and fierce competition, players believe maintaining high spirits and motivation will be vital to success.
“It’s nice to have all these games in a row even though we’re sore,” player Eshani Baez ’25 said. “It gets us prepared [to play] at an accelerated pace because they’re all back-to-back.”
The team remains positive following the difficult loss to Amherst.
“We know the scoreline on Saturday wasn’t representative of what this team is capable of, and we were excited to use the games [that happened last] Sunday and Tuesday to capitalize on our potential,” Lawlor said. “We know this team has a lot of depth and we’re optimistic looking into the rest of the season.”