October 31, 2007

Campbell Reflects on Cornell Career, Coach LaRoche

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Leslie Campbell knows that her time on the field for the women’s soccer team is drawing to a close. But instead of dwelling on old memories, however, Campbell is set on grinding out the last two games of her collegiate soccer career and building towards the future of the program. Given the team’s lackluster performance this year, Cambell believes that a strong effort could start the rebuilding process.
“I hope to send the team off on the right foot,” Campbell said. “Two wins or two good games could set the tone for next season, and I want to make sure the program improves in the future, starting with these last two games.”
A cornerstone to the Red defense, Campbell has started every game since she arrived on campus. The Sacramento, Calif. native out of Christian Brothers High School has enjoyed one of the most successful careers in the history of the program. She is a three-time varsity letterwinner, two-time team captain and two-time second team All-Ivy selection.
Aside from solid defensive play, her intangible quality of being a vocal leader holds the squad together. The need for stability in the team was magnified by the coaching change that took place prior to this season as well as the offseason departure of last year’s starting goalkeeper. Campbell stepped into her senior year having to make the tough adjustment to a new head coach, Danielle LaRoche.
“I was shocked [last year] when I heard that there was going to be a coaching change,” she said. “I understood why it was needed and think that Coach LaRoche has done a great job in connecting with us and getting to know us. But it was just hard to find out on the last day of finals that I was going to come back to a new head coach.”
Through several lengthy phone conversations over the summer, the two got to know each other and what to expect from one another before their first face-to-face meeting on campus. LaRoche credited Campbell with easing the transition between coaching staffs.
“One of the first calls I made after accepting the Cornell job was to Leslie,” LaRoche said. “We spoke at length about her role on the team, and it was a great feeling for me to know that I would be getting a player who was not only an All-Ivy selection, but grounded and looked up to by her teammates.”
LaRoche added that Campbell’s intense on-field play is something that the entire coaching staff loves about her.
“She’ll go hard into tackles and not back down,” LaRoche said. “[Campbell] will even argue in practice when things aren’t going her way, because she’s so competitive and works so hard to make herself and the team better.”
Off the field, LaRoche described Campbell as being fun and having a great sense of humor. She has also done a great job in the classroom — Campbell is a civil engineering major and a part of the Red Key Society, an honor society for athletes. She is deciding whether to pursue graduate school next year or to look for a job.
Campbell says her fondest memory to this point at Cornell was the Red’s homecoming win over Yale last year. She was extremely proud that the team played great soccer, and earned a defensive win in front of many friends and family. She also made it clear that her teammates and their contributions to the program have been invaluable over the years.
“There are six other girls playing their final games at Cornell, and 25 girls on the team,” she said. “Soccer is a team sport, and I want to make it known that it’s not just me. Others have been through what I have and put in the same amount of work.”