Women's soccer captures Region XXI title; earns bid to NJCAA Nationals
For the first time in 14 years, the Community College of Rhode Island women’s soccer team is heading back to the NJCAA Division III Women’s Soccer Championships beginning next week in Gastonia, NC.
In only two years since head coach Jeff Patten rebuilt the program from scratch, the Knights punched their ticket to the Nationals with a victory Sunday in the Region XXI Championship at the school’s Lincoln Campus. As the No. 1 seed in the regional tournament, the Knights beat Bunker Hill, 8-1, in the semifinals, and blanked Holyoke in the title game, 6-0, to capture the school’s first regional title since 2014.
CCRI is one of eight schools competing for a title at next week’s Nationals, which run from November 7–12 at Caromont Health Park. The official tournament bracket will be revealed this Thursday at noon during the D-III selection show live on the NJCAA Network.
The 2023 season is another on a long list of historic accomplishments for CCRI women’s soccer. The program remains the only sport in school history to win a national title, dating back to 2002 when the Knights finished 22-0 and won the regional, district, and national championship. Women’s soccer also captured 14 consecutive Region XXI titles from 2001–2014.
CCRI enters this year’s national tournament at 10-3, which includes a perfect 10-0 record in regional play, no small feat considering where the program was two years after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unable to field a team in 2020 or 2021, the Knights made sweeping changes, first by hiring Patten as the program’s fourth head coach. Patten had a well-rounded background with 20 years of experience coaching at the youth club level and at Dean College from 2013–2017. At CCRI, Patten immediately hit the ground running, putting together an eager, determined group of freshmen in less than two months to debut the new-look program in 2022. The Knights finished 4-4-1 and hosted a regional playoff game.
In 2023, Patten’s roster doubled in size and the Knights dominated the field in Region XXI. They outscored their regional rivals – 10 games in total – by a whopping 53-3 margin, including seven wins by shutout. In Sunday’s championship, freshman forward Sarah Sorlien (Wakefield, RI) recorded a hat trick and sophomore goalkeeper Bailey Patton (Charlestown, RI) stopped the only shot she faced for her seventh shutout of the year and 11th in two seasons.
The Knights ruled 2023 behind a total team effort in which three players finished with 20 or more points and eight total reached double digits. Sorlien led the team during the regular season with 29 points, including a team-high 13 goals, and freshmen Tessa Cost (Greenville, RI) and Margeory Giron-Reyes (Providence, RI) finished with 27 and 24, respectively. Cost’s sensational freshman season included two goals and two assists in Saturday’s semifinal win over Bunker Hill. Defensively, the Knights finished ninth in the nation in shutouts and allowed only 11 goals in 13 games.