The 2012 UMass Boston women's soccer team's season wasn't supposed to follow this script. Kristin Mulry the top scorer in program history had graduated, Sam Place the top defenseman in program history graduated as well, along with four other seniors who played key roles.
"I remember sitting there last season and thinking when we lost all of those girls, what's going to happen now?" senior tri-captain Meghan O'Connell (Abington, Mass.) said. "Who's coming in? And somehow it has just worked. But I think that's why it's worked, because we didn't have those expectations."
Instead of struggling to fill those spots, the Beacons have flourished. After making the Little East Conference Tournament for the first time in 2008, UMass Boston will be making their fifth straight tournament appearance next week and are looking at even bigger prizes this time around.
UMass Boston has already set a program record with 15 wins and with a win Saturday over Plymouth State at 1pm, in the Beacons Broadcast Network Game Of The Week, UMB could claim the program's first ever regular-season LEC Crown.
"I didn't see this coming from the beginning of the season," said senior tri-captain Brittney Spencer (West Brookfield, Mass.) "This isn't what I expected out of our season, I expected us to be good-but I didn't expect to come into tomorrow and to be looking at the first seed, to hosting the whole tournament, to winning the whole tournament and possibly going on to the NCAAs. And this is awesome."
The Beacons jumped out to the best start in program history at 8-0 and have earned regional and national recognition for the first time, despite losing seven key players from last year's 14-7-2 team. All three Beacons senior captains attribute the team's success to the camaraderie between the players.
"You're really working towards something that's not just about you, which is cool," senior tri-captain Anna O'Donoghue (Swansea, Mass.) said. "Because there aren't too many things in life that you can work towards with 21 other girls to try to accomplish the same goal."
"I think it's really come down to how much we all like each other from one to 21," O'Connell said. "Whereas before obviously we were a team, but now we're like a family."
One final hurdle stands in the Beacons way to clinching their first ever title: Plymouth State University. Despite the Panthers 2-14 record and 0-6 mark in LEC play, the two squads have always played tight games, including a 0-0 tie last year in New Hampshire.
"These conference games are so unpredictable," said Spencer. "Every year you never know what teams are going to come and what teams aren't. Hopefully we can come out and play like we need to on Saturday. They're the underdogs I think…but we just need to stay focused and not be complacent."
What would a win mean to this program and to these three captains who have reached the LEC semifinals in each of the past three years? It would be just the start, in what they hope will turn into the most memorable season in UMass Boston history.
"Winning LECs is something we used to say out of habit, but now with this team it's actually a real reality that we're completely focused on," said O'Donoghue.
"It's been nice to see how much the program has grown since we've been here," O'Connell said. "We're talking about NCAAs right now, which is something last year we would have never even think of, but now we're totally focused on it. It's just amazing to be apart of something that has grown this much."
"Our goal this year is to go as far as we can go," Spencer said. "LECs is just a stop this year on our way through, I want NCAAs, I wanna get there."