NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y — As the fall continues on and the weather cools o , the Niagara University women’s soccer team nd themselves nearing the mid-season mark. The Purple Eagles have started their season strong, only losing one in MAAC competition which came in mid Sept. against defending conference champions Monmouth. The ladies have played exceptionally well this season, sending a strong message with a record of 6-3-1 (as of Sept. 28). Among those leading the team in the points category include Courtney Betts, who has four goals and two as- sists, Kelsey Araujo, with two goals and two assists, and this issue’s student-athlete feature, Hailey Bicknell.
Bicknell came into Niagara as a freshman on a mission, finishing third on the team in points with 10. She is now well into her sophomore year, ranking second among her team in points with three goals and two assists.
“The motivation coming into this year is obviously to win MAACs,” said Bicknell. “But more importantly for me it’s to just play free.”
The five-foot speedster out of Corning hasn’t backed down to any obstacle thus far. She is the all-time leading scorer at her AA high school, Corning-Painted Post, with 79 total goals. In 2015 she made the All-State second team, won a Region I championship and the U.S Soccer New York State cup. She has been selected to compete overseas in countries such as Italy, France and Costa Rica where she played semi-professionally.
“These were the best experiences of my life and the best soccer I have ever played,” said Bicknell.
Coming to Niagara has been quite a transition for Bicknell as the level of competition has changed, but she is con dent in her own skillset and what she can bring to the table.
“I think for me my strengths are speed, quickness and my IQ on the eld. I feel like I can distribute balls well and give us good chances to score whether it be me shooting or laying it off for someone else to shoot.”
As for the Purple Eagles, the dynamic has changed from last year. The defense is stronger and the offense is more aggressive.
“The defenders are very strong and are doing a great job switching the point of attack to catch the team from the weak side,” said Bicknell. “Most importantly, we play with heart and always have each others backs.”
Bicknell and the Purple Eagles are determined for the future and hope to keep up the momentum as they host a huge rival matchup against Canisius College on Wed. Oct. 4.
“I expect us to do great things this year and there is no way we won’t be one of the top teams going into the MAAC tournament.”