BOSTON, Mass. - There are certain things that are valuable to a team that can't be coached and one of them is experience. The Simmons College Women's Soccer has been there, done that with 11 seniors returning, including six, who have started the majority of their respective careers. All told, the Sharks return all but one starter from last year's squad that finished third in the conference standings. Simmons is battle-tested and knows what it takes to get to the playoffs and will look to return to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Tournament and challenge for the league title.
The Sharks boast two of the best defensive players in the league in the form of their starting keeper and their right back. Simmons backfield and defensive midfield boasts a number of upper classwomen, as well as one of the most promising second-year players, following an outstanding rookie campaign in 2014.
Senior keeper Briana Hayes (Manorville, N.Y.) has started 54 of 55 matches that she's appeared in for the Sharks and was a GNAC First Team selection in 2013, while ranking among the nation's leaders with an .882 save percentage. The Co-Captain is looking to finish her career in a flurry and has a knack to make big saves in high pressure situations. Sophomore Casey Halle (Watertown, Mass.) proved her mettle last season, posting a pair of shutouts in both of her starting nods and ended the campaign with a sterling 0.65 goals against mark and an impressive .867 save clip in her rookie season. Senior Amber Verrill (Windham, Maine) is very capable of stepping in for starting minutes in net. She started seven matches as a first year and is a vocal keeper, who comes off her line well.
The Simmons backfield is led by 2014 GNAC Defensive Player of the Year Issy Verrilli (Naugatuck, Conn.), who started 15 of 17 matches. She is a tough defender with excellent field vision and good speed. The three-time First Team All-Conference selection helped the Sharks' defense hold opponents to just 21 goals in 19 matches last year. Junior Tasha Friedman (Phoenix, Ariz.) started eight of 11 matches when she was healthy last year. The center back is a very good one on one defender in the box and a vocal player. She is relentless and has a knack for coming up with the ball. Sophomore Jessie Pratt (Westfield, Mass.) emerged as one of the league's best defenders in just her first year with the Sharks. She was the only rookie to start all 19 contests for Simmons in 2014 and will be a mainstay on the field for every minute this year. The center back has excellent instincts and finds herself in the right place at the right time on a consistent basis. She reads the game well and is a solid one on one defender. Classmate Liz Donovan (Nashua, N.H.) will also start in the backfield on the wing and will look to push the ball into the offensive zone to spark the Sharks' attack. She is aggressive with the ball and gained
rich experience as a starter last season.
Senior Ainslie Gibbs (Forestdale, R.I.) and Alyssa Marceau (North Adams, Mass.) both return to the fold for Simmons and will vie for significant playing time. Marceau's endurance will serve her well coming off the bench to give the Sharks a burst of energy. She communicates well and will help support the backfield. Gibbs is a gritty player, who brings a level of intensity and aggressiveness to the field. She's not afraid to mix it up and can play multiple positions in the backfield. First year Erin Fleming (West Boylston, Mass.) will look for minutes as the first rookie off the bench for Simmons. The two-time Central Massachusetts All-Star for West Boylston High School has really good field vision and is always looking to connect with an open teammate. She reads the game well from the outside and has good speed. Newcomers Mallory Cottam (Hope, R.I.), Catelyn Kimball (Brewer, Maine) and Rachel Wadkins (Winthrop, Mass.) will all vie for playing time. Cottam has excellent speed and will look for minutes on the outside, while Kimball is very composed and deliberate with the ball. Wadkins, a former Northeast Conference All-Star for Winthrop High School returns to the pitch after taking a year off and has good technical skill. She will provide good support in the backfield.
Simmons is strong in the midfield with players, who aren't afraid to get after the ball in the air and compete hard for 50/50 balls. Senior Tegan Dougherty (Northfield, N.H.) started all but one match last year and will play every minute of every match. She could see time as a central back or as a defensive central midfielder. She has a consistent work ethic and is great in the air. Classmate Ali Berkman (Natick, Mass.) is one of the most physically imposing players on the field. She will see time on both sides of midfield, defending and attacking. The 2014 First Team All-Conference honoree is very effective taking free kicks and putting the ball in play on throws. She also poses a threat in the box as a target and owns the hardest shot on the squad, that resulted in six goals a year ago. Senior Alexis Eusebio (Dartmouth, Mass.) was one of the team's top distributors last year with five assists and is also not afraid to beat defenders one on one. A Second Team All- League selection a year ago, she makes good decisions from the center midfield and is an excellent technical player. Senior Victoria Russo (Braintree, Mass.) worked hard to get back on the field last year after missing two seasons due to an injury and saw time in 14 contests. The Co-Captain is finally healthy and ready to go. She is excellent with the ball at her feet and is a skilled tactician with the ball, weaving around defenders to create offensive opportunities. She is excellent at creating space for herself and is a threat to uncork a shot from outside the box. Sophomore Erin Montambault (Watertown, Conn.) started 17 matches last year and was a big contributor to the offense with 13 points, including six goals. The midfielder plays bigger than she is and is not afraid to get into the fray to win a ball.
Senior Alexa Faria (Cumberland, R.I.) is a fundamentally sound player, who saw action in seven matches last year, while classmate Hillary Matthews (Colchester, Vt.) understands the game well and will look to contribute after missing last year to injury. Junior transfer Allison Bondi (Macomb, Mich.) was a two-year starter for Tiffin University and will look for time as an attacking center midfielder. She's good with the ball at her feet and looks to put pressure on the defense with her aggressive style. Junior Elise Nothacker (Philadelphia, Pa.) is coming off an injury and will look to contribute late in the season. First year Katie Labbay (Bowdoin, Maine) will miss the season due to an injury suffered in the pre-season. She's a consistent player, who consistently gives good effort.
The Sharks have great speed on their front line will be led up front by senior forward Greer Gilbert (Falmouth, Mass.) on the outside wing. She's one of the fastest players in the league and was a GNAC First Team selection last year after leading Simmons with 20 points on seven goals and six assists. Gilbert is a tireless worker and never gives up on the ball. Sophomore Kashka Gammon (Nashua, N.H) showed flashes of her ability to be a dependable scorer last year and looks ready to emerge into a go-to player for the Sharks in 2015. She racked up 12 points, including five goals last year and her increased confidence and ability to take defenders on will make her an offensive threat for Simmons.
Sophomore Gabrielle Klane (Franklin, Mass.) started nine of 19 matches she appeared in last year and has very good speed and quickness. She could see time on either wing spot and is very dangerous with the ability to create offense behind the defense. Classmate Kali DeNisi (Killingworth, Conn.) will ease into the season after suffering an injury, but will look to contribute as an attacking center midfielder. She made four starts last year and holds defenders off the ball very well. In addition, she's not afraid to take a shot and has great breakaway speed. A pair of first year players will also be counted on to make an impact right away. Ciara Forde (Quincy, Mass.) will vie for a starting spot and could play at center midfield or on the wing. The former Patriot League All-Star for North Quincy High School is a tough player with a physical presence and owns a great work ethic. Mikayla Elliott (Lowell, Mass.) has good speed and will look for time on the wing or as a target forward.