The University of New England women’s soccer team celebrates after winning the Commonwealth Coast Conference championship on Saturday. UNE will play in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament on Saturday. Courtesy Photo/David Bates.

BIDDEFORD — The No. 3 University of New England women’s soccer team captured the 2018 Commonwealth Coast Conference Women’s Soccer Championship after a 1-0 triumph over No. 4 Western New England University at UNE Blue Storm Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“It was really a back and forth game. I think we had the better opportunities towards the end. When we went into halftime, we were like, ‘1-0 is not enough. We have to keep going.’ 1-0 was enough but it was frightening,” said sophomore Vanessa Hodge, who is a Sanford native.
This is the second time the Nor’easters have earned the CCC title in program history. The first time UNE claimed the title was in 2000.
Eighteen years later, the Nor’easters are ready to face their biggest challenge yet. UNE will head to reigning champion William College on Saturday for the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
“I’ve told them there’s nothing to lose at this point. We’re one of 64 teams in the country that still gets to play and that’s a really cool thing,” said UNE head coach Carly Gettler.
Hodge agreed with her coach.
“We expect a big challenge like coach said earlier, ‘it’ll be our biggest challenge yet.’ We have nothing to lose. It’s just another game that we’re lucky to be able to play,” said Hodge.
In Gettler’s second year of coaching at UNE, she focused on scoring goals and creating a positive team atmosphere for the 31-person roster.
“Our goals as a coaching staff coming into the year, we’re still a young staff and a young team, (was) we wanted to break the ‘quarterfinal curse’ and progress pass that. Also, we wanted to have a positive year attitude wise,” said Gettler. “As a staff we weren’t that focused on results and performance as much as, could we put together a really solid season that the team felt good about and could we do it while carrying a really large roster and so far, we’ve succeeded with that.”
Junior Peyton Janelle, who is a former Biddeford High School standout, attested to the optimistic demeanor of the Nor’easters.
“No matter what an individual’s role is on this team, everybody has each other’s backs and wants what’s best for that individual moving forward. No matter if they’re on the sidelines or on the field. It’s great to see everyone so positive and wanting to move forward in the same direction together,” said Janelle.
Hodge echoed that sentiment.
“This year, (there) has been so much positivity. We do so many more things as a team. We’ve started new traditions. We do this thing where we pick a player’s name every week and then we write on a notecard a word that describes them and it goes into their locker before a game. It’s been uplifting and a great thing to be a part of,” said Hodge.
While only 11 players can be on the field, the Nor’easters believe the whole team needs to be present to make an impact.
“The team has really taken off. The team always refers to themselves as a family so we wanted to foster that,” said Gettler. “We got rid of captains and we created a seven-person leadership group that was elected by their peers. They’ve really taken a lead on how to spread positivity and how to keep cohesion high because we do have 31 players on our roster and about 14 to 17 consistently get playing time so if that was the focus there was going to be a lot of unhappiness and restlessness and the team has not made that the priority at all. It’s about being there, being positive and being part of this whole experience.”
The Nor’easters are confident with their season and excited to represent UNE in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“If we could have picked anyone to play, we probably wouldn’t have chosen the defending national champs, but it’s going to get us great publicity for our university. We’re all really proud to be here playing and representing UNE so it’s just the next step in our programs all over development,” said Gettler. “We’re going to give it our best shot and have fun doing it. That’s really what it’s all about for us right now.”
Janelle echoed Gettler’s sentiment.
“We’ll play our game. We’re going to go out there and do what we do best. We’ll come to together and put it all out on the table, everything that we’ve worked for this fall and give it another shot,” said Janelle.
— Sports Writer Sienna Barstow can be reached at [email protected] or at 780-9018. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.

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