Merrimack College Women’s Soccer Finds Success in Division I

The Warriors look to make their second straight trip to the Northeast Conference tournament.
Photo of five Merrimack College Women's Soccer players running on a field.
Merrimack College's Women's Soccer team is a few wins away from competing in a NCAA Division I tournament.

Hanging on the walls of Gabe Mejail’s office is the history of women’s soccer at Merrimack College. He is the only head coach the program has ever had, and a team photo of each of the 40 teams he has coached are proudly on display. And with a glance, the memories are recalled instantly.

For his first team in 1984, Mejail’s main recruitment strategy was hanging flyers around the residence halls. 

Just two years later, the 1986 team won the program’s first conference championship. 

The 2011 team, which won 16 games, could probably beat this year’s squad, Mejail says with a smile. 

But the 2023 team has a chance to do something no non-hockey team at Merrimack has ever done; play in a NCAA Division I tournament.

“It certainly can happen,” said Mejail, the reigning Northeast Conference Coach of the Year. “We are right at the cusp. New Hampshire and Fairleigh Dickinson made it to the NCAA tournament last year and this season we tied UNH and beat FDU.”

As of Oct. 20, the Warriors are 8-4-3 (6-1-1 NEC) and sit in second place in the Northeast Conference. From Sept. 7 to Oct. 8, Merrimack went unbeaten, going 6-0-1 in seven games. Two different players have taken home NEC Player of the Week honors so far: Ella Cormier ’25 and Jillian Golden ’25. 

“It is a great group of women,” Mejail said of his team. “They are such a delight to coach. They don’t put on airs. They are about taking care of business and I have to give a lot of credit to the leaders on the team.” 

Those leaders include forward Molly Murnane ’23, M’24, who currently leads the team in points (14), assists (4) and is tied for most goals (5), and defender Abigail Cieri ’24, who leads the team in minutes and, if she returns for a fifth year next season, would have the chance to earn all-conference honors five seasons in a row. 

The Warriors are heading into the final stretch of the season, which includes a home match against third-place Howard University on Sunday, Oct. 22, at 1 p.m.

“That will be a great test to see how good we are,” Mejail said. “We will see what we are made of.” 

Since 2011, the Warriors’ home matches have been played on Martone-Mejail Field, named for Mejail and Merrimack men’s soccer coach Tony Martone in honor of their combined 80+ years of coaching and dedication to Merrimack. 

It is that same dedication and love of coaching that has grown an extensive Merrimack women’s soccer network. Mejail’s associate head coach for more than 20 years, Paul Athanasiadis, started coaching the team after his wife, former women’s soccer player and assistant coach Danielle Athanasiadis ’97, retired. And more and more, Mejail is recruiting players whose mothers and aunts previously played for him.

“I always say it is easy to recruit because I truly believe in the product I am selling,” said Mejail. “And I think the recruits and their families see that too. I just love coaching. It’s fun and we have a great culture.”

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