In 2015, Erie Community College women's soccer set its all-time record for wins in a season, finishing 11-7. This year, the Kats have pushed the bar even higher.
Coach Gary Boughton's squad has vaulted to No. 7 in the NJCAA Division III rankings, cracking the top 10 for the first time, in a poll released Sept. 20.
"Not only is [the feat] a testament to the girls' effort, hard work and belief in what we're building here, but it also speaks to the strength of local players on a national scale," said Boughton, a Medaille College alum who's since played professionally indoor and outdoor.
"We're now a program that the top players in the area can be proud to call home."
Armed with a record of 6-1 after an impressive 2-0 blanking of Tompkins Cortland, the Kats also benefited from three previously ranked sides not being nominated for this week's poll.
The Kats have outscored foes 42-3 so far this year, with their lone blemish coming to No. 6-ranked Finger Lakes Community College, 2-1, on Sept. 7.
Leading the offensive onslaught has been Lancaster High School grad Abbey Lombard, who's posted 13 goals, six assists and earned NJCAA Division III National player of the week honors, as well as Sam Carey (eight goals, three assists, Iroquois grad), Kallie Smith (four goals, seven assists, from East Aurora) and Jamilah McBryde (six goals, two assists). Follow the whole team's stats here.
Sophomores Lauren Lepovich (Kenmore West), Brianna Fridmann (West Seneca West), Brea Borynski (Alden) and freshman Mackenzie Neary (Lancaster) start along the back line in front of rotating starting keepers Alex Zentz (Fredonia HS) and Hannah Clarkson (Sweet Home).
"It was a little overwhelming for me emotionally to see our name on that list for the first time," Boughton admitted on Tuesday night.
Two of ECC's best remaining foes will visit south campus: The No. 5 team in all of NJCAA Division III, Genesee Community College, plays ECC at 3 p.m. Sept. 29, while the No. 2 team, Broome, comes for a 2 p.m. clash Oct. 22. The regional tournament begins Oct. 29.
Similar to how NCAA divisions are split, NJCAA Division III refers to whether the participating programs can offer money or any kind of support to players. Here's that breakdown.
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