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  • Writer's pictureNICO MANGANIELLO

Women’s soccer makes second consecutive GNAC final

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

Graduate forward Serena Speight dribbles up the sideline in the quarterfinal against Colby-Sawyer. Photo by Maddy Gallant

Women’s soccer made their 11th appearance in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) title game Nov 5. They dropped to Johnson & Wales for a second consecutive year, 2-1.

The Lasers quickly found themselves down against the Wildcats as Emily DeRohen found the back of the net in the third minute. The Wildcats doubled their lead in the 23rd minute with the Lasers left in the dust. The Lasers grabbed momentum with a strong second-half push. First-year Sarah Lynch bagged a goal for the Lasers in the 58th minute, making it a one goal game. When the clock hit 90, the Lasers could not complete the comeback.

Despite the heartbreaking loss to end the season, Head Coach Vito LaFrancesa was happy with his team. “I think we exceeded [expectations] going into the season. You never know with a young team how they’re going to adapt. We knew that we had some special players, but we didn’t know that we were going to have the season that we had this year,” LaFrancesa said. ‘They stepped up big, and we were one goal shy from winning the league this year.”

Sophomore forward Priscilla Martinelli heads a ball toward first-year forward Sarah Lynch in their victory of Colby Sawyer. Photo by Maddy Gallant

The season was filled with great success for the Lasers. They went 13-6-1 overall, posted a conference record of 11-1-1, and had five players receive GNAC honors. Seniors Serena Speight and Bobbi O’Guin made the first team. Senior Caroline St. Croix and first-year Camdyn LaMarre made the second team. LaMarre joined fellow first-year Sarah Lynch on the all-rookie team.

The milestones didn’t end with the players, as Coach LaFrancesca notched his 200th career win in their first-round matchup against Colby-Sawyer.

“I felt it was a great accomplishment as a coach, just to look back, because I think that 200th win, it goes to all the past and present players and how hard and dedicated they’ve been to the program and how hard they’ve worked,” LaFrancesca said, “Without them, 200 wins are not possible.”

Speight, their captain, led the Lasers’ playoff run, scoring braces in decisive victories against Colby-Sawyer and Albertus Magnus.

“I have no idea what came over me going into playoffs,” the Lasers’ top point scorer said. “During the playoffs, I feel like it’s just a totally different world… I wasn’t trying to score goals. I just wanted to win super badly.”

LaFrancesca called Speight’s return a “blessing in disguise.”

“She [had] already been through the grind. She had the experience as a captain her senior year, and she had that determination and that fire, but she has amazing qualities as a human being to take all that knowledge, take all that experience and just educate and teach the younger players,” LaFrancesca said. “But because of COVID, you have that opportunity, and she was a player-coach for us on and off that field.”

LaFrancesca mentioned the leadership group had a tremendous impact on a team that had 11 first-years. LaMarre was one of the standouts.

“[LaMarre] was a true surprise. We knew that she was going to be a diamond in the rough, and we just kept putting her in situations where she would have to either sink or swim, and she kept swimming,” LaFrancesca said. “We were thrilled at how she developed throughout the year.”

LaMarre’s success was also surprising to her. “I was hoping to get some playing time, but I didn’t expect to start and make an impact on the team,” the breakout first-year said.

With key players leaving the program, more of the younger players will be expected to step up alongside LaMarre and Lynch, who had 6 and 10 goals, respectively, this season. “I think the future looks great. It’s a big puzzle, and we just got to make sure we put this puzzle together the right way, and it’s going to be a fun year,” LaFrancesca said.


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