The Black Bear Women’s Soccer team (2-4-1) is full of youthful talent this season with a splash of veteran experience. But one player in particular, a second-year from Lewis Lake, Nova Scotia has emerged this season to lead the team in goals (2) and points (5) through the first seven games of 2017.
Kayla Brace, who only started in seven games of the 16 she played in last year, has started in the first seven so far and made her presence known early and often as she notched a few firsts. Brace recorded her first career assist in game two of the season against Brown as she connected with her teammate Mikayla Morin for her first career goal in the 77th minute. Brace scored her first career goal just two games later at Holy Cross in the 84th minute to help earn the Black Bears their first win on the season.
“Oh my gosh,” Brace said with excitement.
“Just to say I assisted a goal against Brown was a huge win for me especially from last year I didn’t have any assists or any goals, that was a huge win. Also, after my goal against Holy Cross I was very excited. The whole atmosphere after I scored: my teammates were so supportive and excited for me it was great.”
Brace has found herself in a bigger role during the 2017 campaign after coming off the bench in her 2016 campaign, where she only started 7 times. She has embraced her new role and one phrase, “Do your job,” often stands true for the second-year.
“Last year it was weird for me. Coming from back home, I was a player that was on the field all the time. That was another transition I had to get over and deal with. I wasn’t starting, I earned my starting spot,” Brace said.
“This year I’ve been starting every game and with that there is pressure. But I know my role and play my game.”
Brace is one of many international players who decided to take their talents to the University of Maine women’s soccer team; for Brace it wasn’t too hard of a decision.
“I personally knew a girl who came here, Maggie Malone, I came down to watch her play a couple of home games and I just kind of fell in love with the atmosphere and environment.”
Malone is also from Nova Scotia and played for the Black Bears between 2010-2013, serving as a captain in the 2012-2013 season.
Brace played for Halifax County United when in Nova Scotia, but not even that could totally prepare her for a transition into Division I.
“The intensity and demands of D1 is just demanding physically and mentally, but I think, back home, the rex program did help me,” Brace said.
The Regional EXCEL(REX) Program in Canada helps many players and focuses on individualized programs, target areas of player ability and deficiency using statistical and video analysis, team concepts, tactical applications, injury prevention, athletic nutritional requirements and age-specific training with emphasis on speed of play and performance criteria.
Kayla Brace has shown she is a player Maine can start to rely on this season and in the couple years to come. With a young core and great promise, many fans are excited for what the future holds for Brace and her teammates.
“Our major goal is to continue to progress and get better each game. Conference games we take a lot more seriously and we want to win those and we want to make playoffs and win America East, that’s the overall goal for us.”
The Black Bears came up short 1-0 in their most recent matchup with Cornell, but Brace and her teammates will look to get back on track as they start conference play Sunday, Sept. 24 vs. Stony Brook University.