Season Recap: Women’s Soccer Continues Success in 2011, Carries Winning Ways into 2012

This is the fourth in a series of recaps summarizing the most successful fall season at Merrimack in at least 10 years.

November 30: Cross Country
December 1: Volleyball
December 2: Men's Soccer
December 5: Women's Soccer
December 6: Football
December 7: Field Hockey

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For the 28th-consecutive season, the Merrimack women's soccer team finished the year with a winning record. The Warriors posted a 16-4-2 overall record in 2011 with an 11-2-1 mark in the Northeast-10 Conference.

The Warriors climbed to as high as No. 14 in the NSCAA National Poll as they were a mainstay in the weekly rankings this fall.

Merrimack opened the season with 10-straight victories, including a 9-0 run through the first month of the year. The Warriors first loss of the season came October 5 at Franklin Pierce, a 3-0 decision.

This season, Merrimack sported a perfect 9-0-0 record on its home turf, highlighted by the Warriors 3-0 victory over eventual-National Champion Saint Rose October 15.

Merrimack boasted its second-consecutive second place finish in the Northeast-10 Conference to make its 27th-straight trip to the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament.

The Warriors blanked Pace 2-0 in the first round and edged Southern NH 2-1 in overtime to reach the title match. In the finals, Merrimack fell 5-1 to top-seeded Saint Rose. After leveling the contest at 1-1, the Warriors received a red card midway through the first half. The ejection forced Merrimack to play down a player.

Merrimack earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time in program history. The Warriors received the No. 3 seed in the East Region and traveled to No. 2 Saint Rose. In the opening round, Merrimack squared off against No. 6 Holy Family in Albany. The Warriors and Tigers battled to a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation. After neither team could tally a game-winner in overtime, the match was decided on penalty kicks. Merrimack claimed a 5-3 win in the shootout to advance to the regional semifinals against the host Golden Knights.

In the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Saint Rose netted five goals in the second half to eliminate the Warriors.

Merrimack was led by Jenna Zechner (Billerica, MA) with 19 point on eight goals and three assists. Zechner also ranked first on the team with four game-winning goals this fall. Danielle Dion (North Grosvenordale, CT) recorded 18 points on the year with eight tallies and two helpers.

Katie Bresciani (Hopedale, MA) led all Merrimack rookies with 11 points on four markers and three assists, good for third on the team. Jamie Alnwick (Groton, MA) paced the Warriors with seven assists on the year.

Merrimack had 12 different players find the back of the net while 18 registered a point during the 2011 campaign.

On the defensive side of the pitch, Kiley Horne (Scituate, MA) started all 22 matches between the pipes. Horne sported a 1.09 goals-against average to go along with a .834 save percentage. The senior goalkeeper owned a 16-4-2 record on the year while posting nine clean sheets.

Jessica Peacock (Hopedale, MA) anchored the Warriors' backline which held opponents to 1.10 goals per game. Peacock also added three goals and three assists on the season. The senior defender was named the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year and was selected to the Northeast-10 All-Conference first team.

Dion joined Peacock on the All-Conference first team while Horne and Sarah Coakley (Medway, MA) both earned third team honors. Bresciani and Coakley were each tabbed to the All-Rookie squad.

Melissa Garabedian (Salem, MA), Horne and Peacock were all chosen to represent Merrimack in the 2011 NEWISA Senior Bowl.

"I am proud of the dedication and will to win showed by our team throughout the season," said head coach Gabe Mejail. "We were certainly a team rather than just a collection of individuals and that was key to our success this year. We started the season out great and we finished well too."

Merrimack will graduate just six seniors and will return 24 for the 2012 season.