By Matt Jenkins
Staff Writer, Salem News
The Lesley University women's soccer team has made an impressive about-face in just two years. Former Hamilton-Wenham soccer standout Hailee Lowe has been right in the center of it.
Lowe, a Hamilton resident, is the starting goalie for the Lynx and one of the few grizzled veterans on the team.
Now a junior, Lowe has seemingly seen it all at Lesley.
As a freshman Lowe was the backup goalie on a team that managed just two wins. The next year she was the only goalie on a team that was named the NCAA Division 3 all-time Most Improved Team.
The Lynx turned a 2-15-2 season around by going 14-4-1 in Lowe's sophomore year.
"We're getting better every year. The recruiting class last year was great," Lowe said. "Last year's recruiting class was ridiculous, but this year it seems the recruiting class was just as talented but there's more of them. My freshman year they were playing 10 field players with no subs. It's been such a turnaround. Now I think we pretty much have it all, we just have to fine-tune things."
One thing the Lynx have is goaltending.
Gone are the days where the Lesley coaching staff had to hope - make that pray - that Lowe stayed healthy.
Three goalies are on the roster this year. Lowe has two capable backups who are not only there if she gets injured but also there to give her rest during some games, and competition during practices.
Lowe set a new school record with nine shutout last fall, and she already has two this season for a 5-0-1 team. She currently has made 15 saves on 16 shots, good for a .938 save percentage.
The only tie on Lesley's record was a 1-1 double-overtime battle with Gordon College yesterday.
"To tell you the truth, I haven't had to do much this year," Lowe said. "In the past there were no other goalies, but there are two others now. It helps when you have two to work with because you can get their point of view. We spend so much alone time at practice with just the three of us helping each other out. It's great having that dynamic and I definitely feel I'll improved. But I haven't had to do much. I haven't been tested. I'd like to keep it that way."
Another local, Ipswich's Cathryn Folkestad has been helping the defensive effort.
Folkestad and Lowe are two of the team's five juniors. There's also only one senior on the roster.
Despite the youth, the Lynx are aiming for a first-place finish in the New England Collegiate Conference. But because it is their first year in that league, they would need to advance to the tournament via an at-large bid.
The talent on this team makes Lowe think anything is possible.
"I think we all definitely want to win the conference title," said Lowe, who is also a Lesley basketball player. "We want to keep playing into November. Those are the two main goals everyone is talking about lately."