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Women's Soccer: A Season to Remember

By Chris Hogan
On December 18, 2011

Back in August, the UB women's soccer team never would have thought that they would have the type of season they did. With 15 new players, and not having former players Linda Velaj and Rakel Hinriksdottir on this year's team, the Purple Knights went on to a 16-0-2 campaign.

UB had their perfect season end on Nov. 13 when they fell to U-Mass Lowell 2-1 in penalty kills during the second round of the NCAA playoffs at Knights Field. Despite that, the Purple Knights saw themselves ranked number one in the nation in Division II women's soccer standings for six consecutive weeks and had seven different players earn all East Coast Conference honors.

Senior defender Danielle Weir, who earned Second-Team All ECC, said that the team exceeded all expectations this year.

"We achieved more than what thought we would and at the start of the season, we thought it was going to be more of a rebuilding season," Weir said. "Our team overachieved once we got into a winning habit and started to realize we were coming together as a team."

Several major awards that were presented to Purple Knights included senior forward Kasey Kenny earning ECC Offensive Player of the Year, senior defender Marie Pettersson receiving ECC Defensive Player of the Year, sophomore goalkeeper Julia Hansson earning ECC Goalkeeper of the Year and freshman defender Gillian Munro taking home ECC Rookie of the Year. Finally, head coach Magnus Nilerud earned his second ECC Coach of the Year honors in the past three years.

"We had such a deep team and the players that earned All-American [Honors] is something that has never been seen at our school," junior forward Asia Pulse said. "We had the chance to show the players and the skill we do have, which the [national] polls took notice of."

The Purple Knights also allowed the fewest goals in program history in a season with four and Hansson recorded the most shutouts with 13, surpassing former UB goalkeeper Allison Verobel's 11 in 2004. Hansson is now the all time leader in shutouts with 18, also surpassing Verobel, who previously held the record with 15.

"Getting to the number one stop [in the nation] was the biggest highlight for us this season because it showed we could actually do something for the season," Weir said. "Being there for six weeks almost became unbelievable and beating Queens [College] during the final game of the season, gave us a chance to finally celebrate for our great accomplishment."

Senior forward Katie Stanley, who came into the 2011 season with 52 career points, moved pass former UB standouts Linda Ohlander (1997-1998), Sara Warfield (1997-2000), who both had 54 points and Rut Bjaranadottir (2003-2004) with 60 to move into sixth place on the all time points list with 72.

Next year's squad is expected to remain solid despite the loss of Weir, Pettersson, Kenny, Stanley and Julia Colley due to commencement. In spite of that, junior defender's Gabby Trombley and Becky Wallis will provide leadership, while freshman forward Ashleigh Berg and midfielder Jenny Hwang will supply more offensive punch.

"With our freshmen and the production we have gotten [out of them], we just have to look for them for next year [to produce for us]," Pulse said. "We will be getting some good new players and I think Magnus is well prepared for next season."

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