There’s something different about the class of seniors on the Vassar women’s soccer team, perhaps because this cohort is Coach Corey Holton’s first recruiting class. It gives the group of nine students—large for a senior class—a certain poetic symmetry. A certain understanding of role and place. A certain appreciation for progress. And perhaps a certain feeling of arrival.
Senior midfielder and captain Dahlia Chroscinski has noticed the advances made by the program in the last few years. “Each year I’ve been here we’ve gotten better,” she remarked. “We’ve consistently ascended in our league.” That ascension saw the Brewers charge all the way to the Liberty League finals last year, only to fall to perennial powerhouse William Smith.
For the senior class, it’s all about the next step. Said senior forward Rachel Chernet of the team’s goal-making process: “Every year we talk about what our goals are, starting with our ultimate goals of the season followed by mid-range and everyday goals we need to have to get us there.”
The ultimate ambitions this year? A top-two Liberty League finish, beating William Smith, a birth in the NCAA Tournament and a 3.7 team GPA.
The seniors seem to understand the role they must play if they are to continue their year-by- year climb. Mused Chroscinski: “I think with our seniors this season, because there are so many of us, we can really change the dynamic of the team in any direction we want to.”
Speaking on her classmates’ roles in shaping the vibe and direction of the group, Chroscinski conntinued: “It’s our job to maintain…positive energy and just let people know what our culture’s all about and set the precedent early on about how we want things to be—what kind of team we want to be, basically, and how we want to play soccer.”
Chernet echoed the significance of this senior class, commenting, “Being such a large class and presence on the team, it’s important that we show the other classes how to lead in order to have success in the program for the years to come.”
If Coach Holton’s first class is to launch the program to new heights, they realize the hard work that lies before them, not just as players but also as leaders. Luckily, the entire team came into the fall further ahead than ever before: “I was impressed with how fit everyone came in and how well the freshmen fit in,” Chernet shared. “It really showed how hard everyone worked over the summer.”
Chroscinski agreed, pointing out: “Since everyone came in pretty fit, we focused more on gameplay, technical skills…we played 11v11 the first day of preseason instead of doing the normal fitness testing, so we definitely jumped right into things and focused more on the soccer stuff, and I think that really made a big difference.” According to Coach’s Assistant Arianna Cascone, a senior ruled out this season by injury, a longer preseason also allowed the team to bond and incorporate their new players.
This cohesion may be the squad’s greatest as- set this year. Senior defender Megan Coughlan mentioned working to create a team-oriented atmosphere built on trust. Others described the team as tight, comfortable and close-knit. “Being on a team where everyone is friends makes the players more excited to show up to practice everyday and work hard,” Chernet reflected. “I really feel it helps us with both our team chemistry on the field and how we overcome adversity together.”
A long, productive preseason quickly gave
way to games, however, and with games came adversity. After a season-opening 2-0 win against New Paltz, the Brewers were dealt a handy 5-1 defeat by NYU. What had historically been a close, competitive fixture was this time anything but; the mood after the game was somber, down- trodden. The tone soon flipped, however.
What stuck with the team—particularly the seniors—were the lessons learned. “We left feel- ing motivated to come back the next day ready to work at practice and never let a loss like this one happen again,” stated Chernet. Cascone affirmed, “NYU was a tough one for us, but it served as a learning tool. We were frustrated and ready to go out and play better soccer after NYU.”
The next match saw Vassar battle #21 Swarth- more to a close 2-1 loss. Progress. Just two days later, the breakthrough came for the Brewers when they kicked off against Stevens Institute of Technology on Sunday, Sept. 9. This senior class had never before beaten Stevens.
A first-half goal from first-year Emma Tanner saw the Brewers take the lead, before the Ducks of Stevens evened it up part-way through the second half on a penalty kick. The game was poised on a knife’s edge, there for either team to snatch. It only made sense that one of the se- niors was the one to lead the way.
Only minutes after the Stevens equalizer, Chroscinski got her head on a free kick from junior Jordan Moss, sneaking it past the keeper. 2-1. A little over twenty minutes later, the final whistle blew with Vassar on top.
The seniors all realized the significance of the win. “This was the first time we had beat them since I joined the team, so it was a great feeling
to finally get the W,” said Coughlan. Chroscinski called the win a culmination of her career. “We proved to ourselves we can play with these nationally ranked teams,” the goalscorer added.
An arrival, perhaps.
Yet it is still early. While the ultimate goals for the season still loom—William Smith, the Liberty League Tournament, NCAAs—the seniors know where their focus must lie: “Getting better,” said Chroscinski, “Making sure we’re staying healthy, taking care of our bodies…stay consistent, show up and be aggressive for every match.”
These seniors know it’s a long season. They know they must lead the way. And they know that, come November, they want to be ascending to new heights.