Her scoring numbers may not reflect any problem, but this has not been an easy season for Alicia Macomber. The senior forward from Stoughton has dealt with a painful back issue since last spring, but still leads the Worcester State women’s soccer team in scoring (10 goals, 5 assists).
The two-time Player of the Year in the Massachusetts Small College Athletic Conference, Macomber is determined to to lead the Lancers (10-5-2, 6-0-1) into the NCAA Division 3 tournament. The Lancers suffered a 1-0 first-round loss to Nazareth last fall.
Worcester State, which clinched the conference’s regular-season title a 4-1 win over Bridgewater State last Saturday, hosted a MASCAC semifinal Friday.
With 99 career points, Macomber is one shy of tying Melissa Crowley (1992-95) for the program record. She set the school record in the 55-meter high hurdles at Stoughton High and was recruited to run track at Worcester until she convinced soccer coach Kevin Cumberbatch to give her a shot.
Q. Talk about the significance of winning the MASCAC.
A. It was really exciting for us because [Cumberbatch] was telling us that it has been years since a team has gone undefeated and won the regular-season championship in our conference, and so it was really exciting for us to do that two years in a row.
Q. Surprised you were able to accomplish that?
A. It was very important. We obviously didn’t start the season the way we thought [4-3-2 through nine games], but we ended up being able to work together and we came together better than I thought we would. We’ve had a couple freshmen make big contributions, and I think it just took us a while to work well together, but it’s been outstanding.
Q. After a slow start, you’ve been on fire in the second half. What do you attribute that to?
A. It was harder for me early on, because in the spring, I found out that I have a couple of bulging disks in my lower spine. I also had pneumonia in the spring, and the infection attacked the disk area. Coach told me just get healthy for the fall, so I took some time off during the summer to rest my back. It was tough for me to get used to playing at full throttle again. Last year I came in to camp in the best shape of my life, and I couldn’t do that this year. I’m working through it, and now I’m just on a run, trying to be like I was last year.
Q. Are there still ramifications from your back injury?
A. It’s feeling so much better, but obviously it gets sore from time to time. The disks aren’t going to go back into place, but people play through injuries, so it was just something I needed to fight through for my last year and make a statement. Hopefully after the season I’ll get some time to rest it, but that’s not my main priority right now.
Q. You are chasing the career scoring record. How meaningful is that?
A. It would be an amazing feeling to know that I made such a mark in the school and the program. Before I came here, there were some incredible athletes playing like Danielle Clifford and Tiffany Rotatori and a bunch of other amazing girls. It would be great to know I made a contribution like they did.
Q. As a criminal justice major, what are your plans?
A. I’m hoping to attend law school. I’d like to do an internship and shadow at a law firm for a year, and then I’d like to attend Northeastern’s coop program.
Q. How are you scoring most of your goals?
A. I think I have two goals this year from free kicks, and a couple in-play. I think I have a pretty powerful shot, so I try to take advantage of that, but usually I try to do footwork around the defense and then place it as best I can. That’s what I’ve been working on the whole season, and last year too.
Q. Do you have a goal that sticks out as the most memorable?
A. Last year against Westfield State during conference play I had already scored one goal on an amazing pass from Kiley Hardy into the middle, but this one I shot from the 35-yard mark, and it just curved right into the top corner. It was amazing because I never thought I could hit a shot like that.
Q. Do you have any pregame rituals?
A. Before every game, I pray. Other than that, it’s mostly just being around the team for the hour we have before we go onto the field. We’ve all become very close and I’m very thankful for all my teammates so us just being together pumps everybody up.