After roughly 680 miles of travel, all the way to Matthews, North Carolina, Adelphi's women’s soccer team is preparing for a chance to reach the Division II NCAA finals for the first time since 2004.
No. 2 Adelphi will face No. 4 Washburn University 2p.m. Thursday in the Final Four of the DII tournament. It’s been an incredibly successful season for the Panthers, but the team has kicked into another gear in tournament play. Adelphi allowed just one goal in four games against some of the best the country has to offer.
Graduate student goalkeeper Krista Aliscio has allowed just 19 goals on 183 shots this season while also setting a program-record with 13 shutouts. Senior center back Morgan Salmon has sat at the heart of the back line all year and touted the unit’s communication as a reason for its success.
“We always have our teammates' backs. We always play so hard for each other,” Salmon said. “That's really makes our team so unique, how close we are and how bad we want it - not only for ourselves, but also for the person next to us.”
Salmon, whose older sister, Taylor, played for Adelphi from 2012-15, earned a spot on the All-Region first team and was named the Northeast 10 Defensive Player of the Year. Now the focal point of a defensively sound squad, Salmon said she's consistently talked to her sister throughout the playoff run.
“I really looked up to her playing throughout my entire life,” Salmon said. “What we always say to each other is, ‘You got this.’ It’s a simple message, but it means so much.”
Seniors like Salmon began their collegiate careers during the 2020 season that was cancelled due to COVID-19. With all restrictions removed this year, coach Brooke DeRosa said the team learned lessons that were previously difficult to learn during to the pandemic.
“It took away our ability to build character when we do play challenging teams in challenging environments,” DeRosa said. “It took away our ability to build resilience from that. And I think that’s all our team was really missing, learning how to build that character trait through challenging moments, and they’ve done that all season long.”
That resiliency showed while beating third-round opponent and top-seed Saint Rose in penalties after losing to them in both the regular season and the NE10 championship game. It also showed while fighting injuries all year long, according to DeRosa. That toughness is going to be put to the test once again, but if this season has proved anything, it’s that Adelphi can never be counted out.