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Atwood Continues to Excel on the Next Level

Soccer goaltender Breanna Atwood, of Franklin, has impressed fans and teammates at the University of Southern Maine (USM).

By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Franklin’s Breanna Atwood was a superb 3-sport athlete (basketball, softball, and soccer) for the Panthers during her four-year high school career. However, it was soccer that really stole her heart at a very young age, and today, she is competing in her senior season with the University of Southern Maine (USM) at a very high level.
Just recently, the Huskies’ goalie was named the Little East Conference Goalkeeper of the Week for the second straight week with a pair of shutouts. The Franklin alum now has 18 career shutouts (3 so far this season) and is nearing the program record. She also currently has a 0.52 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.
Although she is performing at a very high level for the Huskies, Atwood almost didn’t attend USM, because she was not all that impressed with the campus.
“I originally hated it; the campus was not aesthetically pleasing, and the buildings were old, and I wasn’t thrilled with having to move 2 ½ hours to Maine.” Atwood said. “But after my overnight, things changed. During my overnight visit, I had just about met with everyone on the team, and the coaches were amazing and very helpful. It was something that I really appreciated.”
Atwood first stepped onto the soccer field around the age of three and was immediately fascinated with the sport.
“Soccer is an unpredictable sport where you really can’t set plays, and the game is determined by the players and how they perform,” she said.
Until sixth grade, Atwood found herself playing the field as an outside winger, but that year, her team was short a goalie. Atwood, being one of the taller girls, was assumed a natural fit for the position. She picked things up relatively quickly, with the help of her father, a seasoned player, teaching her the basics of the game on the back line. Her teammates began to feel comfortable with Atwood playing in the net.
As a freshman, she made the junior varsity team and was elevated to the varsity squad the following year.
“My sophomore year was definitely interesting – I was hoping to make the team even if it was a back-up goalie,” Atwood recalled. “Being that there were no real tryouts for goalies, I was doing all the basic skills with everyone else. I prided myself on my footwork that I learned from my younger years playing the field.”
Longtime Franklin Coach Tom Geyson placed Atwood in the position of center back. She was ok with the position, happy to be on the team.
“It was different and weird to be learning a new position,” the goal keeper said. “In my mind, I felt that I didn’t deserve to be a starter in this position, but it meant a lot to me that Coach Geyson thought that I could play it. It eventually helped me to understand the game on a different level.”
Although playing a position other than goalie, Atwood would reclaim the net minding duties as a junior and senior for the Panthers. Over her final two seasons with Franklin, she helped backbone the team to a 22-6-6 overall record (10-2-5 as a junior and 12-4-1 as senior) playing in a very tough Division 1.
Once Atwood got to Portland to play for the Huskies, however, the season would be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the team would still practice, the Franklin goalie was heartbroken. Here she was in a new school for the first time in a different state, and all by herself.,
As a sophomore, Atwood found herself on the sidelines most of the year while her team was now playing in a different conference. While in transition, USM played well enough to advance into the tournament for the first time in many years. Although the Huskies would eventually lose in the semi finals, Atwood noted, that season motivated the team, allowing it to grow.
As a junior, the Franklin native finally played goalie at USM, and although the squad was playing a tougher schedule, they hit the ground running that fall and never looked back, capturing their first ever regular season championship. USM went 17-4 (7-1 in the league) earning a position in the NCAA Division 3 national Championship for the first time in school history. The squad would also set records with the longest winning streak, most goals, and most shutouts (Atwood would post 11) during a season.  
Atwood would receive All Little East Conference accolades. She would also be named Conference Goalkeeper of the year posting a 28-8 record with a .922 goals against average and an .844 save percentage.
“That season was insane. The schedule was difficult, but as a team, we were clicking as a unit, we scored a ton of goals and were defending well,” she said. “We just tore it apart last year, it was unbelievable. I, personally, didn’t think that I made much of an impact, but I guess I was wrong after earning the honors I received.”
Outside of her personal accolades, Atwood and the rest of the team were extremely proud of finally getting the best of Western Connecticut College, the team that the Huskies always found themselves on the short end of the score. In the Little East Championship, the players were not about to back down.
“They were intimidating, but we were not having it this year. The team was confident in my ability if the ball happened to get through our defense,” Atwood said. “We all trusted one another, and that goes a long way on the field. We knew what we had to do and went out and took home a 3-1 win.”
As she enters her senior season, Atwood, and the rest of the USM team obviously want a repeat of last year’s performance. The Huskies, says Atwood, want to prove to all those people that last year wasn’t a fluke and they deserved what they accomplished. With so many people looking down on the Huskies, the team is coming into the season with high expectations, and nothing is going to stop them.
Atwood has once again been named captain and is hoping that the other young women can come to her for support at any time. She is looking to lead them confidently on and off the field, and she’s also building her own confidence with a goalie coach.
“I was happy with the way that I played last year but felt that having a coach can only help grow my skills,” she said. “I am also eyeing the school’s shutout record.  (At the time of this writing Atwood found herself with 18 shutouts on her illustrious career at USM – the record sits at 19).”
Following the season, the senior plans to attend graduate school. Having gone through COVID, she still has one more year in which she could suit up for the Huskies, but after that, she wants to continue playing soccer in some fashion.
“I don’t think that I can’t stay away from soccer too long, so I’ll probably end up joining some woman’s league to give me a way to circle back,” she said.
Before that happens, Atwood still has the remainder of the season and is a mere shutout away from tying the school record, and two away from owning it. She has not only impressed Huskies fans, but she has also done her hometown proud. After September, she was named the University of Southern Maine Student Athlete of the Month; currently has been named the Little East Conference goalkeeper of the month for three times so far and has led the Huskies to a 9-0-2 start (3-0 in the conference) while posting a .919 save percentage and a 0.47 goals against average. Atwood has also recorded her fifth shutout this season, giving her a career total of 20, breaking the 23-year-old record at the university.