Amy Zombeck Named Little East Conference Coach of the Year; Five Players Honored
The University of Massachusetts Boston soccer team knows they won’t be considered underdogs in 2013—not after they smashed records in 2012.
The team earned their first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament and their first Little East championships, winning both the regular season title and the conference tournament title. The team, who finished with an 18-3 record after a first-round NCAA tournament loss to Ithaca College, set program records for wins, conference wins (6), and goals scored (70).
Sam Cristoforo, a junior exercise and health sciences major from Rockland, said the Beacons’ success was a team effort.
“None of that would have even been close to possible without the hard work we put into this season every single day, on and off the field. The work ethic that my teammates had is what made me want to work harder for them in the end,” Cristoforo said.
Senior Brittney Spencer, a psychology major from West Brookfield, said the LEC tournament win was a career highlight four years in the making.
“I had waited for a group of girls to come along, a group I could win a championship with and luckily this year we got just that. I couldn't have asked for my college soccer career to end in any other way,” Spencer said.
“What sticks out the most was sitting watching the seconds count down to our first conference championship and running out onto the field when we won,” Head Coach Amy Zombeck said. “It is a moment that I will never forget. Holding that banner and knowing how hard these players worked to get there was just incredible.”
Zombeck was named the LEC Coach of the Year for the third time in the past five years. Five players earned All-Conference honors, including Cristoforo and Krista Ledin, who became the first Beacon to be named Offensive Player of the Year. Ledin, a sophomore nursing major from Bridgewater, finished the year with 26 goals and 12 assists. What she remembers about the Little East Championship win is that she couldn’t stop smiling.
“In the beginning of the season, I had no idea what to expect because we lost some key players. As the season went on, I realized this season was going to be good,” Ledin said.
For Zombeck, it was hard to pick a favorite game in a season full of them.
“All 18 wins were my favorite games. Keene State College is my alma mater and we have never beaten them before. The players’ determination and excitement that they had with that first win was a tone that they set for the rest of the season,” Zombeck said. The team beat Keene State both times they faced them, 5-0 and 3-0.
Spencer is one of three seniors on the team. After graduation, she is considering getting a job as a counselor so she can work with children; she may also look at graduate school. Her teammates, meanwhile, are already preparing to get back to work on the Clark Athletic Center Field.
“Our team is more determined than ever now. In [seasons] past, we came into the season as the underdogs and not much of a threat. Next season will be a completely different story,” Cristoforo said.
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