Any successful team has to be resilient.
They have to overcome injuries, weather conditions and an occasional sub-par performance to rack up wins and a championship.
The Husson College women’s soccer team entered Saturday’s North Atlantic Conference championship game against rival University of Maine-Farmington without NAC Player of the Year Shelby Pickering of Lee.
Pickering suffered a concussion in a 5-0 NAC semifinal win over Mount Ida (Mass.) and coach Keith Bosley didn’t learn she couldn’t play until three hours before the game.
Sophomore Pickering, who had transferred from the University of Maine, had 27 goals and 11 assists, both team highs.
But it was her replacement, Wells’ Tatyana Wolterbeek, who scored the game’s only goal as Husson triumphed to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Husson will travel to face Wheaton College (Mass.) on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Wheaton College is 20-1-1 and ranked 10th in the country in the NCAA Division III poll.
“The kids stepped up. They realized it had to be a team effort,” said Bosley, whose team improved to 17-3-1.
He said the game was “disjointed” and his team played a thorough defensive game.
Senior goalie Leah Drew made four saves on seven shots in posting her 13th shutout of the season.
Husson didn’t allow a goal in its three NAC playoff wins.
“We were prepared for them. I never felt they really tested Leah. She made four saves but she had a good view on all of them and they were all routine. Most were taken from outside the box,” said Bosley.
The Eagles have an imposing and talented back line of 5-foot-9 senior Meredith Homer and 5-8 juniors Laura Clarke of Bangor and Shelby Morissette but it is one of the smallest Eagles who serves as the pivotal defensive link in the midfield: 5-2 co-captain Shaina Goode of Bucksport.
In fact, Goode was named the Most Valuable Player of the NAC Tournament.
“All three teams [Bay Path, Mount Ida and UM-Farmington] were led by dominant central midfielders but Shaina neutralized them,” said Bosley. “She works relentlessly and gets stronger and faster as the game goes on. She blunted their attack and is the reason we can play three backs instead of four.”
Goode said she was “very surprised” to be named the tourney MVP.
She said she makes sure she knows where the player she is marking is at all times “and I try to read the play the best I can.”
Bosley and Goode are looking forward to the matchup against Wheaton, which beat them 2-0 last season.
Pickering is expected to return, according to Bosley.
“We know them, we really competed with them last year and we have a much better team this year,” said Bosley. “And we’re familiar with their field.”
“It should be a very good game,” said Goode.
The winner will play the winner of the 1:30 game between Amherst College (Mass.)-Kean University (N.J.) on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Wheaton.