The University of New Hampshire (UNH) women’s soccer team didn’t get a chance to compete in the 2021 postseason. The team earned a spot in the America East Tournament, but due to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns within the program, they were forced to withdraw. The ‘Cats had a strong season up until their early exit. They had the best start in program history (4-0) and never dropped a game at Wildcat Stadium.
Head coach Steve Welham got the most out of his young squad. The team fielded 11 first-year athletes, many of whom broke into the starting lineup. With most of a season under their belts, the group should be poised for a breakout season in the fall of 2021.
Two rookies, Alivia Kelly and Anna Hewlett took home All-Rookie honors in the America East (AE). Kelly was also named to the AE All-Conference Second Team. Senior captain Francesca Picicci was the other Wildcat picked to the Second Team. She and co-captain Casey Peterson would be valuable assets to Welham should they return for a fifth year.
There’s no question that goalkeeper Cat Sheppard will be back. The junior posted a stellar season between the posts for UNH, keeping a clean sheet in three games and only conceded five goals all season. With the entire defense returning, Sheppard will look to have her best season yet as a Wildcat.
The biggest bolster to the roster will likely come from Whitney Wiley who went down with an injury early this season. Before her year was cut short, the attacking midfielder posted three goals and an assist in four matches. UNH’s attack was noticeably better with Wiley on the field. Hopefully, with the summer to recover, Wiley will be able to roar back into action for the ‘Cats in the fall.
Photo courtesy of Jack Bouchard.