September 20, 2007

New Head Coach Looks To Lead W. Soccer, Aims For Ancient Eight Glory

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Six games into the season, the women’s soccer team has already matched its win total from the 2006 season. After an 0-2 start, first year head coach Danielle LaRoche has brought the Red back to the .500 mark, posting a 3-1 record in its last four games. The Red, currently stands at 3-3 after coming off a disappointing 3-13-1 (1-6) last year.
The women’s season began with a couple of lopsided road losses to strong Hofstra and St. Johns teams, which it followed up with a home overtime win over Hartford. The Red then dropped a game that it feels it should have won at St. Bonaventure, and won its last two this weekend at Berman Field against Siena and Lafayette, respectively.
“[The season has] gone pretty well,” said junior midfielder Whitney Stich. “Over the past week and a half, we’ve overcome some mental difficulties and played really well.”
Stich was referring to a mental block that several other members of the program have pointed out, including LaRoche. The squad has given up quick goals after the opening whistle and immediately after halftime in several games this year, and has allowed opponents to strike back right after Red tallies. The women have cleaned their play up of late, though, which was obvious in a dominating 3-0 win over Siena and a comeback 3-2 victory versus Lafayette.
The Red’s recent team success has been coupled with impressive individual performances by its newcomers. Freshman goalkeeper Jodi Palmer posted her second career shutout this weekend, while Natalie Zandt and Lena Russomagno have been crowned Ivy League Rookie of the Week in successive weeks. All of the freshmen have worked extremely hard and Stich has been impressed with their play.
“I love the freshmen class,” she said. “They’re great girls. They are very skilled soccer players and have been more than welcome to the team.”
Returning senior captain Leslie Campbell is one of the anchors of the Red’s defense. She is coming off an all-Ivy season, as is sophomore forward Eva Dixon. They are two-of-14 returning letter winners that have eased the transition into the new coaching regime. Coach LaRoche has instilled a fresh attitude and commitment to the program, along with major tactical changes to the Red’s play.
“She’s very intense, but in a good way,” Stich said. “Practices are very focused and we get a lot done. We’re more fit, and we have all improved technically. A lot of the minor things have been fixed.”
The Red’s only Ivy win came last year against Yale, something which it hopes to improve on.
“Yale was our biggest upset last season, so it’d be really exciting to prove it to them and ourselves that we are a good team and can do it again,” Stich said. “We’re actually a really good team, but we’ve just struggled mentally.”