After leading the Harvard women’s soccer team through a championship-winning season, star senior Midge Purce recently garnered a pair of national accolades.
Last Tuesday, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America revealed its list of women’s semifinalists in consideration for the 2016 MAC Hermann Trophy, the most prestigious individual honor in collegiate soccer. Along with 14 of the best women’s soccer players across the nation this season, Purce made her way on to the list after an exceptional senior year.
A few days later, the NCSAA announced its 2016 Division I Women’s All-America Team—and once again, Purce’s name was on the list, this time on the All-America First Team. Purce is the first Harvard selection to the First Team since Emily Stauffer ’98-’99 and Naomi Miller ’99.
Both selections were made based on voting by NCAA Division I soccer coaches across the nation.
“To me, it means the work that I’ve done with my coaches in the past, and all the training days invested in me, and the time they’ve invested in me, you can actually see the results from them,” Purce said. “It’s just another way for me to verify that they have been so incredibly amazing. It’s another opportunity for me to say thank you.”
Purce also concludes her career leaving a host of marks on the record books. Her 42 career goals are seventh in Ivy League history. This year—a year in which the Ancient Eight was stacked with enough quality opposition to push defending 2015 champion Princeton down to fifth place—Purce paced the conference with 12 goals, four of which came in conference play. Her 28 total points also led the revamped Ivy League.
“She’s been a player that’s probably easy to notice in-game and in our oppositions’ scouting reports, for obvious reasons,” first-year head coach Chris Hamblin said. “Midge was a complete package this year. She’s defending very well from the front, she was able to beat people one-versus-one, she was able to get up near the crosses, she was able to create space—I think she was impossible really to contain.”
In addition to the two national awards, earlier this year, Purce was named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year for the second time in her career, and unsurprisingly was named to the All-Ivy League First Team for the fourth straight season.
Hamblin, in his first year at the helm of the program, was also named Ivy League Coach of the Year after guiding the team to an unbeaten 5-0-2 Ivy League record. He noted that Purce’s success was also a product of her development as a player. Purce was named to the NCSAA All-America Third Team after her freshman season, and her senior accolades display her tremendous improvement over the years.
“She’s a very well-rounded player, which you could see with the success she had this year,” Hamblin said. “Midge wasn’t one dimension—she’s multi-dimensional in what she provided, and [she] had a phenomenal senior year. She’s been fun to watch grow as a person and as an impact player for the program.”
As Hamblin said, Purce wasn’t just a goal-scoring machine. Though it might’ve gone unnoticed in stat sheets, Purce defended well, created space, and opened up opportunities for her teammates by way of warranting constant attention from opposing teams.
Joining Purce on the All-Ivy First Team were teammates Carly Rotatori, a senior midfielder, and Dani Stollar, a junior defender.
Fellow senior forward Rachel Garcia also played an enormous role in pushing Harvard to the top of the Ivy table, with two clutch game-winning goals, one of which won the Crimson the Ivy title.
“Every member of our varsity contributed to our success year,” Hamblin said. “Midge would often draw some attention, and the rest of the front group were able to work in sync and play in combination together. It was a selfless approach from all the attacking players. Midge played a big role in that.”
Purce was especially selfless in describing her teammates this year.
“It was a very special group of girls that we had this year,” Purce said. “It’s easy to say that about every year, but this year it was really incredible the way our team came together and overcome a lot of hindrances on and off the field. It was a really special group, and I was honored to play with them and know them as teammates and friends.”
The banquet formally announcing the winner of the 2016 MAC Hermann Trophy will be held on January 6, 2017 at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis.
—Staff writer Bryan Hu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.