The past few weeks have been a nonstop grind for the Amherst women’s soccer team as they prepare for the 2022 season. With the beep test and their 6:30 a.m. practices finally behind them, the team is looking forward to hitting the field running this week. Last year’s 15-2-2 record and 19th appearance in the NCAA Division III Championships would be a tough season to follow for most teams, but not for the reigning NESCAC Regular Season Champions.
While mourning the loss of their ten recent graduates, the team returns 22 players from last year’s league-winning squad and will look to make yet another deep postseason run. Junior keeper Mika Fisher ’24 returns to her goalposts this year after an accolade-filled 2021 season. Starting every game between the pipes for the Mammoths last season, Fisher posted a .880 save percentage and a 0.61 goals against average, while tallying a NESCAC-leading eight shutouts. In addition to being named the 2021 NESCAC Rookie of the Year, Fisher comes into this season with United Soccer Coaches First Team All-Region One and Division III First Team All-American honors to her name. She is the first Amherst women’s player to earn the latter honor since 2011.
Fisher was joined on the All-Region One team by sophomores Patience Kum ’25 and Charlotte Huang ’25, who both earned second team honors. Huang started every game on a back line that posted 11 total shutouts during the season, while Kum led the NESCAC with an impressive 12 goals in her first year, including the winner against both Little Three rivals, Wesleyan and Williams. Alexa Juarez ’23E, Sierra Rosado ’25, Abby Schwartz ’24, and Liza Katz ’24 also return to the Mammoths for this season, all of whom finished last year’s campaign with points in the double digits.
The Mammoths also welcome eight new first-years who are joining the ranks this fall hungry to maintain the momentum that last year's team has built. With so many new additions to the squad, the team has been focusing on building chemistry this preseason. “We’ve been really focused on reconnecting as a group and getting to know, as both people and players, our first-years,” head coach Jen Hughes said.
With this in mind, senior captain Isabel Stern ’23 emphasized the importance that the team has placed on summer training in preparation for this upcoming season in order to return to prime form this year. In addition to the plethora of players who got their touches in this summer by playing on United Soccer League W League or Women’s Premier Soccer League semi-professional teams, three recent graduates and two current members of AWS also got their practice in, to say the least, by playing for the U.S. Open Women’s team in the 2022 Maccabiah Games. Maya Scholnick ’22, Natalie Landau ’22, Cassie Chin ’22, Schwartz, and Fisher came home with a gold medal after an 89th-minute winner against Israel in the final game.
Hopefully, their winning ways will carry over into the fall. After excruciating one-goal losses in both semifinals of last year’s NESCAC Championship against Middlebury and in the Round of 32 of last year’s NCAA Championships, the Mammoths will look to avenge their defeats and bring home the hardware this season. They are aiming for their sixth NESCAC title and their fifth consecutive berth to the Division III National tournament.
The Mammoths officially return to their stomping grounds, no pun intended, this Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 5 p.m. For the first time this semester, roll Hitchcock Field (or Gooding Field) to support Amherst Women’s Soccer as they take on the Springfield College Pride to open their 2022 campaign.