The women’s soccer team got to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year, but the Ivy League Champions — who went 14-4-1 overall and 7-0 in the Ancient Eight — hope to make it even further this year.
The team will face growing pains, however, given that it lost eight seniors and has a large, nine-player freshman class. Defenders Haley Chow, Gianna Geil, Kathy Jones and Fiona McKenna, midfielders Nicole Loncar and Jesse McDonough, forward and midfielder Sarah Mendenhall, forward Tyler Lussi and goalkeeper Hannah Winner join the team’s roster this season.
“We always try to just get the best players that we can,” head coach Julie Shackford said. “We really wanted a balanced class this year, knowing that we lost pretty much people from all over the field last year.”
The freshman class boasts several high school MVP awards, first-team all-league or all-area picks, three- or four-star ratings from TopDrawerSoccer.com and experience on the Canadian national team. Several members were named the top players in their respective regions.
Senior defender Kacie Kergides noted that, with so many new defenders coming in, the team will have to figure out right away what works best defensively.“We’re going to have some new people back there, so we’re going to have to adjust very quickly,” Shackford agreed. “We have to be really sharp defensively ... we’re going to have to really gel.”
The new team will have to be able to gel both on and off the field, though, players said.
“With so many new players and personalities, you take a chance on the chemistry and camaraderie of the team,” junior midfielder and forward Lauren Lazo said. “Hopefully as upperclassmen and as a team, we can make them feel as comfortable and at home as possible because they’re basically a third of our team and we need them to come in and be positive and help the team in all the ways they can.”
Gabriella Guzman said the new class has a “great personality” and she is looking forward to a successful season with the new team.
“From the start, we just have to show them how much we want it, and we need to be like one unit,” Guzman said. “We have to set the tone: We’re not going to accept losing, we’re not going to accept not winning the Ivy League ... we have high expectations for them and for ourselves.”
So far, the freshmen have been a pleasant surprise. Lussi, in particular, has already made major contributions — she is tied for first on the team with three goals. The Tigers are 3-1-1 through five games, having shut out Richmond, Army and Seton Hall before falling to Rutgers 5-1 on Sunday.