Framingham State’s senior soccer co-captains Jasmine Lees, Jessica Morgan, and Paige Roberts were more than ready to dominate the field for the upcoming season alongside their teammates.
While the team was preparing for the start of the new season, no one was ready for the devastating news their season would be taken from them due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Lees came from Middleborough, where she had been playing soccer since she was 3 years old and decided to continue playing at Framingham State.
“I started out with soccer and then I played softball and things like that over the years, but soccer was the one that really stuck,” Lee said.
Morgan – who grew up in Framingham and has played soccer since the age of 4 – chose to continue her athletic career at FSU.
“People always asked, ‘Do you want to play another sport?’ and I was always like, ‘I really like soccer!’’’ Morgan said. “Everyone in my family said to play basketball, and I played a little bit in high school, but it was never where soccer was.”
Roberts, who has grown up in Acton for the last 10 years, started playing soccer around 7 years of age along with other sports as well.
“I started with basketball, and at the same time I did track and field, lacrosse, softball, and then soccer was in the middle – but I just fell in love with soccer.”
Before their last season could start, the seniors chance to take the field representing Framingham State colors was ultimately terminated.
Lees said, “I actually had a pretty rough summer and soccer was really going to get me through that, so just hearing that it wasn’t happening I was just … devastated.
“Everyone was saying we’ll still get to practice and everything,” she added. “But it’s not the same.”
Morgan said, “I kept saying that we’re gonna have a season, not preparing myself for the outcome of actually not having a season.
“A week before they were making final decisions I thought this is it and I didnt mentally prepare myself for it, and then when it happened I was a complete, utter disaster,” she added.
Roberts said, “The entire summer I was mentally preparing myself that it wasn’t going to happen and then a month or so before the NCAA said they were letting football players go back onto their campus. I was like, ‘We’re finally going to have our senior season!’ and then, we got the news.”
Despite the season coming to an abrupt halt, the team bond continued to grow stronger than it ever has.
“There’s been a really big change in attitude since last season, and it’s really positive,” Lees said. “So just getting together and getting touches on the ball and seeing each other – I think we’re all disappointed but trying to make the best of it.”
Morgan added,“It’s frustrating we have to deal with this but as a team, we’re so much stronger for having to deal with it.”
While the team doesn’t have any games scheduled to play, the co-captains say they are using this time to their advantage to really work on what’s needed most for the team’s success – continuing a practice schedule in their off time.
Roberts said, “A little bit of practice just gives a little bit of happiness throughout the entire pandemic. You obviously are going to have your sad days, but being able to go onto a field and seeing everyone laughing through the masks, even though they’re 6 feet apart it’s a nice change.”
The seniors’ bond with the rest of the team is something the women hope to continue to follow for future teammates to come.
Lees transferred to Framingham State where she instantly felt the connection between herself and the rest of her team both on and off the field.
“Having that core group of friends on and off the field really helped our chemistry on the field and we played really well together,” Lees said.
Morgan also transferred from UNH to FSU her sophomore year where she hoped to play another season despite medical issues making it difficult for her to play.
Morgan said, “I thought, ‘Why not try?’ because soccer was my forever love. So, I walked on my sophomore year, and that was the best choice I have ever made. It brought me to my other 23 best friends and I will forever be grateful for that decision I made.
“This is so big and so important to who I’ve become, I don’t know where I would be without it,” Morgan added.
Roberts, who didn’t play soccer in high school, didn’t expect to play her freshman year at Framingham State when she applied. She said she was instantly welcomed by her 23 new friends, the people who would always have her back.
“Sophomore year, I had the decision I could transfer to FSU down in Florida, and I applied and I made it. I ended up not going because of the connection I had made with a couple people, it was just a lot stronger,” Roberts said.
Morgan said one of the best feelings as captain was watching the team effort and continuing to show up for weekly training sessions during quarantine while following safety guidelines.
“That’s not something that was typical of previous years, so being able to get all of the girls together in the middle of a pandemic was really impressive to me – it really showed me who wanted to be there,” Morgan said.
Lees added, “We also had an indoor team going before the pandemic and girls would always show up to it just because they wanted to play and that effort and passion for the game was really nice to see from everybody.”
Hanging up their Framingham State uniforms, the captains were more than happy to give advice on what to expect for the years ahead.
“Definitely don’t take advantage of the time you have here because people say it goes by quick but it especially does when your last season is ripped away from you!” Lees said.
Morgan said, “The more you talk, the easier it is for people to build a relationship with you, so use your voice. Even if it’s just a smile, just a way of communicating is so important to build that team relationship.”
Roberts said, “Practice every practice and play every game as if it’s your last. Do everything you possibly can and leave it out on the field. We don’t know where the world is going with this pandemic, so just never give up!”