September 21, 2007

Lady Booters Try for Four Wins in a Row

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Head coach Danielle LaRoche had been harping on mental toughness all last week, and it paid off as the Red overcame a 2-1 second-half deficit at home to inch by Lafayette, 3-2. This week, the Red must take its newfound toughness one step further; it will face Niagara at home tonight and then will travel to Lewisburg, Pa., to take on a talented Bucknell team on Sunday.
The Red (3-3) will seek to close its three-game homestand undefeated when it hosts the Niagara Purple Eagles (3-3). Despite their identical records, the Red likes its chances to continue its three-game home winning streak. “Niagara plays more like Siena does, with a slower and more spaced out game,” said senior captain Leslie Campbell. “We’re just going to focus on playing better, like we do after every game.”
According to LaRoche, the Red would stick to its style of play and game plan against the Purple Eagles: stay aggressive defensively, actively start counterattacks and take risks.
“We are starting to gel as a team now and to get fitter,” LaRoche said. “It takes a little longer in the Ivy League to get used to each other.”
It will be a different story against the Bisons (3-4), however. The team’s sub-.500 record is deceptive, as it includes losses at national No. 12 Rutgers and No. 17 Penn St., two of the top teams in the Northeast. Bucknell is 2-1 at home, having defeated opponents by a combined a score of 10-3 in the two wins.
Although the Red has freshman Lena Russomagno — who has five goals and two assists so far this year — the Patriot League favorite boasts a prolific freshman forward of its own in Christa Matlack. Matlack has matched Russomagno’s production with five goals and two assists through seven games.
“Bucknell is more similar to the types of teams we will see in the Ivy League,” LaRoche said. “We’re going to put Leslie [Campbell] tight on her all game, we won’t spring out of the box defensively … we will be playing more conservatively.”
The Red will also be facing its most difficult mental assignment of the year. Bucknell is debuting its new $10 million field this season, where nearly 1,400 fans took in the Penn St. game last weekend. The Red, who is 0-3 on the road this year, will need to find a way to avoid porous defense on the road.
“Because of last weekend, we know that even we’re down we can win,” LaRoche said. “Our No. 1 improvement this year is [increased] confidence.”
In addition to the large seating capacity, Bucknell’s home turf is considerably larger than that of most other soccer fields, creating an open-space environment easier to score in.