The UMass Lowell women's soccer team is coming off its most successful Division I season yet, as 2016 showed promise for the program's future.
In their fourth year of Division I play, the River Hawks posted their best win percentage (.353) to date, with a 5-10-2 overall clip, including a 3-5-0 mark in America East action. Had the squad been eligible for post-season play, the River Hawks would have qualified for the America East Championship for the first time since the program's transition into DI.
"I am super proud of the team this year," said Head Coach Joel Bancroft. "We qualified for playoffs and finished in the top six in our conference. Defensively, we allowed our fewest goals against and on top of that, all of our starters return. Our performances the last two weeks of the season are a glimpse to what the future is for this program."
With a tally in the 90th minute, Jaymee Luke (Las Vegas, Nev.) led the River Hawks to a 1-0 victory against the 2016 America East Champions UAlbany on September 25.
Over the past two seasons, Bancroft has led his squad to two upset wins against reigning conference champions, taking down Hartford, 1-0, in 2015 before defeating UAlbany this year. The team also put together an impressive 2-1 win against top seeded New Hampshire in the conference finale this past October.
In the 2016 season opener, the River Hawks set a new program attendance record with 1,071 fans at the recently renovated Cushing Field Complex in a 1-0 victory against Bryant on Sept. 1.
Two members of the UMass Lowell women's soccer team earned America East All-Conference honors for the 2016 season. Junior co-captain Rachel Morrier (Plaistow, N.H.) was named to the America East All-Academic Team after boasting a 3.97 GPA. The midfielder tallied a second best seven points and three goals on the year.
Junior co-captain Shannon Groffie (Toms River, Mass.) was also elected to the All-Academic Team en route to her second All-Conference selection of her career. The midfielder was one of three players to start all 16 game this season and spouts a 3.92 GPA. Groffie was also tabbed to the All-Rookie Team in 2014 following her freshman campaign.
After stellar freshmen campaigns in 2015, sophomores Julia Schneider (Bridgewater, Mass.) and Katelyn Vieira (Warwick, R.I.) have continued to impact the program, as well as climb the record books.
Schneider's 1.13 goals against average in 2016, landed her in the top 10 among single season goals against average leaders. Combined with her efforts from her rookie season, Schneider is fifth with a 1.67 career goals against average in addition to sitting fourth in career wins and shutouts with 10 and seven, respectively.
For the second consecutive season Vieira led the River Hawks in points (8) and goals (4) from the front line. The forward's 27 career points and 12 career goals places her 11th and ninth, respectively, among career leaders.
Bancroft graduates five players from this year's squad: captains Samantha Balbierz and Erin Scanlon, in addition to Taylor Chianese, Carolyn Ragon and Taylor Packwood. the 2016 class has made great contributions to the program on and off the field and will be the River Hawks' first class to play all four years at the Division I level.
"This senior class is a bunch of builders," explained Bancroft. "They handled the transition of coming into a Division II program and being elevated to Division I very well. They are builders in their communities, they are invested academically and are all committed to the program and what you see now. They all played a unique role and they were all equally important. I am really proud of this group."