Women’s Soccer Faces Top Seed Saint Rose in Sweet 16


The Mercy women’s soccer team left for their Sweet 16 game against Saint Rose in Beckley, West Virginia won on Nov. 29. Multiple athletes from other teams were at Victory Hall to wave them goodbye and wish them all the best of luck. 

For the sixth time in program history, the women’s soccer team made an appearance in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) tournament and this is the third time the women’s team made it to the Sweet Sixteen. It is the fourth straight appearance in the tournament, which says a lot about how the soccer program has been improving over the past couple of years. 

The team holds a 12-4-4 record with an 8-1 conference record. Mercy was impressive 6-1 at on it’s home field in 2021. 

In the ECC tournament, Mercy defeated the No. 3 seed Daemon College, 2-0, but then lost 1-0 to top ranked Molloy College, 1-0, in double overtime. 

To get to the Sweet 16, Mercy first eliminated No. 3 seed Southern New Hampshire University, 1-0, and then stunned second seed Molloy, 1-0, to avenge a regular season and a conference tournament loss. The College of St. Rose is the current top seed in the bracket. 

For almost everyone on the team, except fifth-year goalkeeper Melissa Torres who made it to the Final Four in 2017, making it to the Sweet Sixteen is a new and exciting experience. If they win from Saint Rose tomorrow, the team will play again on Thursday, against the winner of the match West Chester vs. Concord. 

Coming off a win over Molloy, the team who beat the Mercy team in the ECC, East Coast Conference Championship Final, the women’s soccer team has never been feeling better. Carli LoNigro, a junior forward, says winning from Molloy never felt so good.

“Beating them was the best feeling ever. Everyone was so pumped. It felt better than winning the semi-finals in the regional championship and it made losing to them twice earlier in the season all worth it. The NCAA Tournament is much bigger than the ECC Championship.”

The girls on the team have been preparing themselves for this important game by practicing every day and watching film. LoNigro says that they watch film of themselves and of the opponent to analyze the way the other team plays.

“Our coach makes us watch film with the other players on our position, so we can focus more on one thing. Other than that, we are all very focused. Yes, we have our fun moments during practice and we are all very excited to be here but in the end, the job needs to be done, and we know that.”

As mentioned before, the women’s soccer program has been improving a lot over the last years and it has been showing great results so far. Senior Sydney Cooper was announced as the Defensive Player of the Year by the ECC and together with graduate student Nikki Bermudez and sophomore Skyler Schwenkler, she made the First All-ECC Team, which is a selection of the best players from the conference. Torres made the Second All-ECC Team. If it can’t get any better, their coach, Danny Leon Jr., was chosen ECC Coach of the Year. 

One might forget sometimes how important the coach can be to a team. Other than coming up with drills and practices to improve their players’ skills, the coach also needs to make sure the players do not get too much ahead of themselves. LoNigro saysLeon Jr. is doing a very good job so far.

“Our coach is like the middle ground. He gets everyone focused on the game and on anything else that is important. He makes sure everyone’s head is in the game.” 

If the team wins the next two games, the girls will go to Colorado Springs in Colorado to play the semifinals for the National Championship on Dec. 9. The final will be played on Dec. 11.

And the Mercy women’s soccer team will be more than ready for it all. 

LoNigro can not wait for the game start. “We are playing it game by game. Tomorrow is just going to be another game. We have to keep doing what we know, what we are good at. We are going with our gut and keeping our heads in the game. If we lose tomorrow, I will be proud of ourselves for improving on so many points throughout a rough season. We struggled in the middle of our season and we let a few things slip here and there. Something was missing and back then I would not have thought we would make it this far. Making it to the Sweet Sixteen is already so much bigger than the championship. But we all want more. We are not done yet. We can not stop now.”