Rachel Morrier proves to be a key offensive player for the 2017 season. (Courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics)
Having tallied nine points in eight appearances this season, Plaistow, N.H. native Rachel Morrier has been a key offensive weapon in what has been a strong showing from the UMass Lowell women’s soccer team (3-2-3) at the outset of their 2017 campaign.
“As a player, you wish you had eleven of her,” said head coach Frankie D’Agostino. “Her qualities aren’t just in the attacking side of the field. She does work off the ball, gets back and defends. She can play a final ball and shoot with both feet.”
Despite transferring from Providence College in pursuit of a strong nursing program midway through her freshman year and being unable to participate for the majority of her sophomore season due to injury, Morrier’s leadership and talents have been integral to the team’s starting core since her arrival.
Raised alongside six siblings and homeschooled until her sophomore year of high school, Morrier developed a competitive spirit at a young age.
“That’s really what motivates me. I want to win. Whether it’s on the soccer field or in the classroom, I want to do my best,” said Morrier.“It’s the way I was brought up. We were always competing at something, whether it was with my older brother or my sister who’s here at Lowell.”
Morrier’s competitive, no-less-than-best attitude does not seem to find pause in any of her endeavors. Morrier is consistently busy throughout the week with work from her nursing major classes. Even on her off day, she can be found working at the hospital.
“It’s tough trying to balance the two. There’s really only one time slot per class, and I just have to hope that the time slot isn’t during practice time. With clinical, which is an all-day thing at the hospital, I have to schedule [it] around soccer… My off day really isn’t much of an off day,” said Morrier.
Despite an incredibly full schedule, Morrier said she is always looking forward to the next exciting challenge on the field, including the upcoming start of conference play and possible playoff contention.
With women’s soccer finally eligible for the America East playoffs at the end of the 2017 season, the team has its sights set on a chance to compete at the next level, and the strong start they have seen this year indicates they are more than able should the opportunity arise.
In their early matches, Morrier registered four goals, one of which was the game winner against Sacred Heart University. She also had 37 shots and played a total of 641 minutes. Much of her success she attributes to the coaching change-up that occurred in the off-season, and the hard work of her teammates.
“I think it just goes to show where the team is going. Just this past year our success has been much better. We’re playing better as a team… [and] the coaching staff. They do a great job. A lot of credit goes to them, and to the team for staying focused and wanting to compete,” she said.
D’Agostino also stressed the importance of team success in individual success by saying: “She opens up a lot of space, and there’s a lot of kids on the team that have been underrated in the past and played out of position. This team is going to surprise some people.”
Coming out of the gate, they have done just that. Losing only two of eight games in the first half of the season, the River Hawks are on track to have their best season yet.
There is no doubt that Rachel Morrier will be a key factor in offensive success going forward with a tough conference schedule, now just days away. Yet what makes her a player to watch is not that she produces, but how she does so.
“She’s the type of player that can be misunderstood because she likes to have the ball at her feet,” said D’Agostinto. “You have to have a mix. The players that are going to stick to their job, and then you have to have that flare. If not, you’re only going to get certain things.”
Morrier’s standout ability to make big moves and score key goals comes from a willingness and comfort in using both feet.
“I know growing up it was if I do something with my right foot, do the same thing with my left foot. When I’m going forward I can take a shot with either foot, whereas other players may only be dangerous to one side,” she said.
Along with her offensive abilities, Morrier is a strong passer and piece of the defensive effort. Her emphasis on togetherness and hard work often match, and even best, her offensive flare. It is these qualities that make captain Morrier someone the River Hawks can rally around.
Looking past her athletic talent and describing her as intelligent, grounded and fearless person, D’Agostino is sure that Morrier was just the leader for the culture change he had in mind for the women’s soccer team this season.
“I don’t think she is ever intimidated by anyone we play. Rachel faces it all, and that rubs off on everyone else,” says D’Agostino, “There’s players, few and farther in between, who command that respect on the field, but also off the field. She leads by example and a silent leader is sometimes the strongest one.”
With one more season following this current one, Morrier cites a year-by-year approach to planning the future. She is unsure exactly what is to come after UMass Lowell, but D’Agostino did not display the same uncertainty.
“I think Rachel is a pro. I’ve coached the [Boston] Breakers [and watched] them play. Knowing those teams, [there’s] no reason why she can’t be on that roster. She has the talent for it. The way we look this year, she’ll start turning some heads, and she’ll have that opportunity,” said D’Agostino.