P-P Soccer Captain ‘Quill’ Plagued by Injuries, Flourishes in Last Semester

After clinching a sweeping victory in Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Whittier College, the
Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team is enjoying an extremely fruitful season and will be in high spirits going into Saturday’s final regular season game
against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. While many players have enjoyed fine seasons to help spur the team
forward, few individual performers have been more impressive than
the attacking midfielder and team captain Nicole Quilliam PO ’15. 

With
five goals (the second highest of the team) and three assists (the most of the team),
Quilliam’s statistical output has been impressive enough, but it fails to capture
the entirety of her contribution as an offensive orchestrator and on-field
leader. A regular cog in the side, Quilliam, or “Quill” as most of her teammates call her, has been a major part of P-P’s
success this season, her last as a Sagehen.

“Quill really leads by example through her work rate,” goalkeeper Corey Goelz PO ’17 said. “She is just an engine on the field, and that’s contagious and really lifts our team. She also has a really bubbly personality, and her positivity and optimism make her so fun to be around.”

Unfortunately,
the Menlo Park, Calif., native’s collegiate career had a slightly rocky start as
an injury forced Quilliam to spend much of the second part of her first year
watching from the sidelines. Though playing action was limited, Quilliam quickly found herself integrated into the team off the field. 

“PPWS
has always had this kind of family mentality. I felt welcomed in right away; those were my friends right away,” said Quilliam, who identified the sense of
community and friendship as one of the biggest positives of her time on the
team. “I have loved [Pomona] ever since I stepped foot on campus, and the team
has been a huge part of that.”

Quilliam bounced back strong for her second year on the team, starting every game as P-P made it to the SCIAC postseason tournament. Notching two goals and three assists, Quilliam said she saw her overall game improve as she adjusted to collegiate-level play.

“It’s interesting to look back on it … you really do see your game improve, your
skills improve, your ability to take people on or take a shot,” she said. 

Such growth
was reflected last season as the team set a school record for wins with a total of 13.
Despite losing in the playoffs at home to CMS, the season was undoubtedly a
landmark for P-P. 

“[Last season] ended in a heartbreaking way … but overall a lot of
people really shined,” Quilliam said. “It was really exciting, winning a lot of games and making
noise for P-P athletics in general … it was an awesome season all around.” 

Qulliam finished as the second-highest goal scorer with seven strikes despite missing a
portion of the season with injury, cementing her status as a key player
on the team. As well as becoming a staple on the pitch, she also came to be a leader who her younger counterparts looked up to.

“Quill is a great teammate to have on and off the field,” forward Danika Bethune PO ’17 said. “When I was a freshman, she was so welcoming and friendly and made us all feel like a part of the team right away, but she is also a great role model on the field. Her work rate and determination inspire us to try that much harder.”

The
Sagehens have continued to build on last season’s success in their performances to date and are in
the frame for a potential SCIAC championship after securing their place in the
tournament. P-P might have clinched even sooner if not for an inconsistent patch
of results in the middle of the season.

Before the
Oct. 22 win against Chapman, she said, “we’ve had kind of a lull, lost a couple games,
tied a lot compared to previous season as a result of having all these weird
injuries … but as people are starting to come back, we’re kind of pulling
ourselves out of it. The vibe is that we’re on the upswing.”

While there
remains plenty to play for in the weeks ahead, there is no escaping that
Quilliam’s Sagehen career is in its last few games. 

“It’s going to be weird; it’s going to be really sad when it’s all over, but I know that the program is
going to be doing really well, which is always a good feeling,” Quilliam said. 

And while this
is Quilliam’s last chance to play alongside many of her teammates, the bonds of
friendship forged through years on the team are likely to remain for years.
Membership in the PPWS family, it seems, doesn’t end at graduation.

“Even
though people have graduated throughout the world we’re still in touch with
them, Facebook message them, text them … it’s nice knowing you’ve gone through
the same experience with a bunch of other people and you have that connection
for life, those friendships for life,” Quilliam said. 

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