On Wednesday, Oct. 24, the sight of the women’s soccer team and its supporters occupying the steps of Gardner Hall greeted students as they made their way to and from class. Trending on Twitter as #OccupyGardner and #ENCWSWantsVeterans, the team’s goal was clear: Get Veterans Memorial Stadium for the women’s quarterfinal playoff game.
After tying the University of New England 1-1 in their regular season closer, the ENC women’s soccer team secured a home game in the first round of the CCC playoffs. What was not secure at the time, though, was the time and location of the game.
Because Veterans Memorial Stadium belongs to the city of Quincy, ENC does not have full reign over who uses the field and when. The field needs to be reserved about a year in advance, but that also means 1,000 people could be shut off from the field if the team doesn’t earn a home playoff match.
Outraged by the prospect of playing somewhere aside from Veterans for their home game, the soccer team created a petition and boycotted classes to show the administration that they would not stand for anything other than a home game.
“At first, we were trying to show them we didn’t want to play anywhere else; home field was our goal from the beginning of the season,” said goalkeeper Rachel Henry.
Athletic director Dr. Nancy Detwiler had already been in contact with the city for potential openings for a playoff game as the women’s soccer season progressed. She was working out times and schedules while, unbeknownst to her, the boycott was going on.
In the midst of working out the details, Dr. Detwiler was phoned by security about the boycott. “[I] was sitting here writing emails to the city to resolve [the issue]. I couldn’t believe it.”
Henry added, “When we found out that [the administration was] doing everything in their power to help us, it became more of a demonstration to show others how passionate we were and how hard we worked to get here.”
Somewhere along the lines of communication, it was misunderstood that the only potential time for a game at Veterans was at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27. In that case, to be hospitable to the away team who would have to travel two hours to Quincy, the game would be located at either Wentworth or Curry (both of which are closer for UNE).
Veterans Memorial Stadium was already reserved for Quincy football playoffs, but they kindly gave up their time slot, saying they were “glad to help,” according to Dr. Detwiler.
With a clear home-field advantage through the support of passionate fans, ENC defeated UNE, the program’s first-ever playoff victory. The team’s year came to a conclusion Nov. 1, however, with a loss at Gordon College in the CCC semifinals.