The Gonzaga University women’s soccer team started and ended its 2021 season with incredible accomplishments.
The Bulldogs closed out its regular season last Saturday with a 1-0 win against Loyola Marymount University. The game marked the team's 15th win, passing the program record for most victories in a single season that previously stood at 12 in 2019.
The season also boasts the program single-season records for most goals (47), assists (39), shots (387) and shots on goal (196).
While their season amazed fans and raised the bar for the future of the program, the Bulldogs’ success was on par with the team's expectations.
Infused with a perfect combination of both promising young talent and experienced upperclassmen, the team started the season in perhaps the best position in program history.
For the first time since 2005, the Zags earned a spot on the United Soccer Coaches National Top 25 Poll, and from the outset, they proved that they deserved to make the list.
The team won nine of its first 10 matches and rode an early seven-game winning streak that matched the longest in program history. The team quickly began outshooting and outscoring its opponents, ranking second nationally for the most season goals by mid-September.
The Zags can attribute their success to an incredible team effort, though one of the main stars coming out of the season was redshirt sophomore forward Maddie Kemp.
Despite tearing her ACL and subsequently not playing her freshman season, Kemp continued to prove herself on the field as one of the main focal points.
A touted recruit coming out of high school, her talent has grown to new heights during her collegiate career, as she set both national and conference standards throughout the 2021 season. Kemp ended the regular season with nine goals and four assists.
Right alongside Kemp is forward Erin Healy. As a junior, Healy has already led an impressive and noteworthy career on the team, earning her eighth goal of the season in GU’s victory against the University of Southern Florida on Nov. 3.
The team has also benefited this season from the leadership and skills of senior defenders Haley Archuleta and Jordan Thompson. The veteran pair, who led the roster in minutes played, provided the team with a strong defense and invaluable seasoned expertise.
For Head Coach Chris Watkins, the team’s seniors stood out as having been key to the winningest season in program history.
“No one's won more games in a Gonzaga uniform," Watkins said. "There's not a whole lot of tradition here with Gonzaga women's soccer, and they just started it, so I'm really proud of them."
Watkins also credits the season’s record-breaking success to the entire squad's overall hard work and effective work ethic.
Despite one of the best seasons in program history, the Zags will not be competing in the postseason. GU won its last four matches, all of which were shutouts, and placed fourth in the WCC. The 2021 NCAA Division I women’s soccer selection show took place on Monday, but the Zags did not receive a spot on the bracket.
For the team’s seniors, the end of the season also means the end of their regular-season career at GU. Endings can be bittersweet, but Thompson feels optimistic and excited for the future.
“We put in a lot of hours together to break the season record, and that just means this program's still going up and we're leaving it better than it was when we came in," Thompson said. "That's something to be super proud of. It's just really cool to see the upward trajectory and it's cool to think about the places that we're going to go.”