Westfords Cherry anchors Bentley Women’s Soccer Team – Lowell Sun
When it comes to entrenching the Bentley defense, Cherry is at the top of their game.
Maeli Cherry, a senior quad captain, has been a mainstay of Bentley University’s women’s soccer team for the past four seasons. The Westford Academy graduate was a cornerstone of the team’s success, specializing in a defensive mindset that has proven to be a formula for success.
Bentley currently has a 7-4-2 (7-5-3 overall) record and played in the final of the regular season on Wednesday against St. Anslem (November 3rd, kick-off at 3pm). The two teams, along with Franklin Pierce, are currently in a three-way battle for third place in the Northeast-10 Conference, which is a high-stakes drama when the settlements are finally published.
âI think everyone’s excited,â said Cherry, 21. âNobody wants the next game to be our last, so we go into every game and pretend it’s our last. The seniors feel the end of the season. We’ll play our game and plan to go as far as we can. “
Bentley goes into the season finale with a winning streak of two games. They will face a lively St. Anslem squad sitting at 7-4-1 (9-4-1 overall) after a 2-3 loss to Stonehill.
“This game is going to be a fight,” said Cherry. “I think we are well prepared and ready to go.”
Despite having had a losing streak in the last three games, Bentley appears to have regrouped with a vengeance with a 3-0 win over Le Moyne (October 23) and a 1-0 shutout against St. Michaels (October 29) to have. .
“I honestly think the short time we didn’t win was a wake-up call,” said Cherry. âWe know that we have more in us and we are happy to show it. We worked extra hard in training, invested the extra time and just joined in on the field. This is the best selling and most excited thing we go into a game before the playoffs. We are excited to see how it goes. “
While teammates like the Wilmington-born and his quad captain Dana Goulet focused on the offensive, Cherry was the team’s defensive loyal team. It anchors an impressive line of defense known for its suffocating defense system.
Cherry was a key figure in Bentley’s defensive unit, which has had some noticeable numbers over the past two seasons. In 2019, the team completed 10 shutouts in 20 games and had a shutout streak of 531 minutes that spanned six games. She was also part of a group that conceded just one goal in eight games.
She was a key member of the 2019 Bentley team, which received the program’s first application for the NCAA tournament, setting an overall record of 10-8-2. That season also included a win over Southern New Hampshire in the NE10 quarterfinals.
Although the 2020 season was scrubbed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the team’s defensive mindset remained intact at the start of 2021. The Falcons have booked seven shutouts in 15 games this season, including a streak of 276 minutes without conceding a goal to start the NE10 schedule, which covered more than three games.
And there’s nothing like keeping the opposing team’s top offensive weapons at bay.
“I think we’re very connected in the back row,” said Cherry. âWe all have different strengths. Our newcomer Jill (Hendricksen) went out of her way to take on the role of center-back. I think the depth we have on the defensive alone means that no matter who is in it, we have faith in them. “
According to Cherry, the team’s versatility in defense makes them easily adaptable against any type of opponent.
“Depending on the team we play against, we have different strengths that we can play on,” said Cherry. “It also means that we have fresh legs on the outside and not only stand in this defensive line, but also work to support our offensive when we go on the field.”
As for her role, the 5-foot-6 senior full-back just tries to keep it simple.
“I’ve always seen (my role) as a back support, but also as a push when we need it,” said Cherry. “I just make sure that I support my central defender and that wall is in the defensive line while also supporting our midfielders on attack.”
“We have always been a defensive team,” she added. âIt is very important for us, especially as a backline, to be this block. We also know that we (goalkeeper) have Kat (Hassapis) behind us on the net who was a lifesaver during the season. It is important to us to be connected as a backline. We do a lot of work outside of the field, watch films and just develop strategies together. It is important to us to keep the goals outside so that we can advance and score goals. “
Preparing for big games is nothing new to Cherry. A native of Bolton, he picked up the sport at the age of 4 while living on the Pacific island of Kwajalein before moving to Westford at the age of 6.
She continued to hone her craft in the States, playing in youth soccer, and being a perfect match for the Gray Ghosts who were entering their freshers. As Rookie of the Year and Division 1 All-Star, Cherry helped lead Westford Academy to the Massachusetts State Finals in its senior year before graduating in 2018.
“It was the furthest distance a Westford team has ever run,” said Cherry, noting that their class had played both city and touring football together since they were 8, just knowing all of ours hard work over the years has gone into it. It was a great experience and something I will always remember. “
Corporate Finance and Accounting is now making new memories and crowning an amazing career at Bentley University.
“I think this team has grown since my first year,” said Cherry. âOf course we didn’t play last season, but we had a lot of success and developed a lot. In my first year there was some frustration about not being what we could be, then we turned that around in 2019. It was exciting to see how my class and the younger players develop. By the time we finish, we won’t have any more gaps to fill. “
“And I firmly believe that we will go as far as possible this season.”
The hawks would certainly accept no less.