ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine women’s soccer and field hockey teams have strung together a nice stretch after slow starts, and a pair of freshmen have played important roles in the resurgence.
Soccer goalkeeper Lauren Swant was named the America East Rookie of the Week for the second time this past week after making six saves and allowing just one goal over 200 minutes in Maine’s 0-0 double overtime tie with Fairfield and 2-1 win over Rhode Island.
The women’s soccer team has gone 3-1-1 over its last five games to improve to 4-3-1 and Swant has allowed four goals while turning aside 23 shots during the stretch.
Field hockey forward Cassidy Svetek was also named the America East Rookie of the Week as she scored four times in a 6-0 win over Holy Cross and a 3-2 overtime win over Pacific. She notched the game-winner against Pacific.
The field hockey team has won four in a row to up its record to 5-4.
The field hockey team entertains Quinnipiac (Conn.) on Friday night at 6 while the soccer team opens its America East schedule at home against Vermont at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Soccer coach Scott Atherley said the 5-foot-10 Swant has all the ingredients necessary to be a top-quality goalkeeper and added that the native of Oakville, Ontario, is in the Canadian Under-20 national team pool.
Her athleticism is one of the keys to her success.
“During our preseason testing, she was among our fastest players in the 20-yard dash; she was the best in the broad jump and had the highest vertical leap,” said Atherley.
“She’s quick, explosive and fearless,” he added. “She makes difficult saves look routine because of her [quick] feet. She is highly motivated. She aspires to play for the Canadian national team.
“She can really kick the ball out of her hand or off the ground. She hit a punt against Fairfield that reached their goalie on two hops,” said Atherley. “She can also throw the ball. She can throw it to midfield on a dime. She makes difficult saves.”
Swant is 4-2-1 with a 1.08 goals-against average and a .814 save percentage.
Atherley said she is surrounded by a back line that is constantly improving.
Freshman center back Noelle Leon-Palmer has been the team’s “most consistent performer” to date and she is joined by senior center back Maddie Hill and outside backs Joanie L’Abbe, a freshman, and Maggie Malone, a junior.
“We want them to play safe, simple and smart. They’re a lot more decisive,” said Atherley.
Maine field hockey coach Josette Babineau has needed someone to step up and score after losing her top three goal scorers and being without 12-goal scorer and 2011 America East Rookie of the Year Holly Stewart for another week. She has already missed three games because she is playing in Mexico with the Canadian Under-21 team in the Pan Am Junior championships.
Svetek has stepped up.
“She’s playing with more confidence,” said Babineau. “Her strength is she’s good around the net. She has a natural ability to score.”
Babineau added that Svetek, a native of Burlington, Ontario, has a better understanding of her defensive responsibilities.
Svetek has a team-high five goals.
Babineau added that sophomore Annabelle Hamilton (4 goals, 1 assist) has been “a big part of our attack” out of the midfield and senior center back Zoe Adkins (3 and 1) and sophomore sophomore center mid Zoe Berkey (1 and 2) have played consistently well.