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Women’s Soccer Plays Like Team on Fire, But Falls Short at Season's End


In the lead during the semifinal.

The women celebrate after a goal.

Head Coach Elyse Diamond, center, with assistant coaches Marissa Segal, left, and Lauren Sparano.

West Windsor, N.J. – Having just completed her first season as head coach for women’s soccer, Elyse Diamond is feeling good about Mercer County Community College and the Vikings team she coached this fall.

She calls her 2016 squad a good, hardworking group of women. “They all had lots to contribute to the team’s success,” she said.

Clearly disappointed with the Vikings’ early exit in the semifinal round of the Region 19 tournament on Oct. 26, Diamond summed up that particular contest against Harcum College as “just one of those games where nothing flowed.” After Harcum tied the score 2-2 in the final minutes of the game, the two teams battled through a scoreless double overtime. Mercer lost on penalty kicks.

Diamond notes that entering the tournament as the no. 1 seed with a 13-3-1 record, the Vikings felt a lot of pressure. “They wanted it so much. And, after working on penalty kicks in practice, they were totally prepared for that.”

But no one anticipated that sophomore defender Kendal Parah, the team’s no. 2 penalty kicker, would get injured late in the game. (Parah and midfielder Virginia Cummings were the Vikings' co-captains.) “Kendal was such a big part of our team and one of our most competitive players," Diamond saidl "And except for that game, the girls rose to the occasion every day.”

Indeed, on many of those other days, the women played like a team on fire. The team’s 10 shutouts are a testimony to its skill. “During the regular season, we totally dominated. It takes an army to do that,” Diamond said.

Diamond has plenty of compliments to go around. She points to player stepped up their games on both offense and defense during the season. “They played to each other’s strengths. Many of our players could score and our defenders barely gave their opponents time to set up. There were a variety of personalities on the team, but they meshed beautifully on the field,” she said.

The Vikings finished 27th in the nation in goals scored with 61. Forward Janine Dennis completed her Mercer career in the top ten nationally in goals scored with 28 in 14 games and seventh in points with 64, and was named Region 19 Player of the Year. Goalkeeper Shaunice Palms was 23rd in the nation with 25 saves in 17 games and completed the season in the top 50 (47th) in save percentage at .811%. Palms was named the GSAC Goalie of the Week and the NJCAA Div. I Goalie of the Week following several particularly strong games in September. Forward Giselle Chica reached double digits in goals, finishing with 12 in 17 games, while forward KellyAnn Krepp had eight goals and seven assists. Chica, Parah and Toni Catelli each had five assists. Jacky Gummel, Cassidy Denno and Jennifer Macario all were stellar in the midfield, and Parah and Palms anchored the backfield with Jamie Bogdol, Toni Catelli, and Marissa Reed.

In addition to Dennis topping the All-Region list, Parah and Reed were also named to the All-Region First Team. Gummel was named to the All-Region Second Team.

Diamond, the former head coach at Nottingham High School, notes that she has found a great support system in the MCCC Athletics Department from her assistant coaches, Lauren Sparano and Marissa Segal, to the entire Athletics staff. "They have provided me with an easy transition from the high school to the college level," she said.

Diamond is already beginning to focus on next year’s roster and the recruiting process that will take place this spring.  “We expect at least six solid players to return and will be looking to recruit 10 to 12.  We will build on this year’s success.”

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