Since the hiring of Head Coach Kia McNeill, Brown women’s soccer (12-3-2, 7-0-0 Ivy) has become synonymous with one word: winning. This was true when the Bears won the Ivy League title in 2019 — an accolade that had evaded them since 1994 — and in both 2020 and 2021.
Three players exercised a pivotal role in launching this dynast — Brittany Raphino ’23.5, Sheyenne Allen ’23.5 and Ava Seelenfreund ’23.5 — all three of whom signed to play professionally for clubs in Portugal’s Campeonato Nacional Feminino.
“I knew that Sheyenne, Brittany and Ava all had the potential to play at the next level, but it is not always about potential,” McNeill wrote in a message to The Herald. “It is about the drive, the work ethic, the commitment to perfecting your game and all three of them really had that hunger and desire to be the best players that they could.”
“They had a professional mindset in college in terms of the way they trained, took care of their bodies and invested in their development,” McNeill added. “They were always out training and wanting to do more, so there is no coincidence that the three of them are playing pro now.”
The first announcement — declaring that “Sheyenne Allen is a pro!” — came on Jan. 11 via the women’s soccer team’s Instagram account. Allen, the team captain who led Brown with six assists last season, had signed to Club De Albergaria.
Eight days later, the account announced that Seelenfreund had signed to SCU Torreense.
Wednesday, Raphino — a noteworthy alum of the Bruno soccer team and attacking partner of Seelenfreund — announced her signing to Sporting CP. After a long wait with bated breath, fans of Bears soccer finally found out where the three-time All-American will continue her stellar career.
“It is amazing to have (three) players in the same class go on to play professional soccer,” McNeill wrote in an email to The Herald. “We pride ourselves on being a program that can give student athletes an elite education (and) soccer experience, and (on) having players graduate with phenomenal degrees from Brown and look to play professionally.”
“(It) just shows that we are doing the right things to develop our players and give them the platform to play at the next level,” McNeill wrote.
The three players have been a staple of the Bruno soccer program for the last four years, with four consecutive Ivy League championships and zero conference game losses over their tenure.
Allen’s contributions from the midfield included 14 assists and five goals across her 59 career games.
Raphino accrued 42 goals and 20 assists across her 70 games. The three-time Ivy Offensive Player of the Year averaged .88 goal contributions per game in her career with Bruno.
Seelenfreund was named to the All-Ivy team twice in her career. Alongside Raphino, she notched 25 goals in her 70 games.
“Those teams (in Portugal) have gained competitors. Whether it is a small-sided game we are doing in practice, or playing for an Ivy Championship, Ava, Brittany and Sheyenne love to compete,” McNeill wrote. “They love when the stakes are high and there is something to play for on the line. They know how to thrive in big moments and I think that is what really separated them here at Brown, and that is going to continue to allow them to excel at the next level.”
Though the three players’ presence will be missed next season, they look ahead to promising professional careers in Portugal.
“They are a special group of players who changed Brown Women’s Soccer forever,” McNeill wrote. “They helped our team win (four) consecutive, undefeated Ivy League Conference Championships. That is unheard of, but special players make special teams, and those three are truly one of a kind.”
“I am so grateful to have been their coach here for four years, and the future is so bright for all of them — on and off the field. I can’t wait to continue to follow their journey,” she added.
Dennis Carey is a Sports Editor who enjoys playing volleyball, listening to and collecting vinyl records, and poorly playing the guitar in his spare time.