This fall, the women’s soccer team and their new coach Corey Holton are not off to as strong a start as they would like after three games. After winning their first game against Mount Saint Mary College, 1-0, they have since lost their last two games, conceding one goal in both.
Despite their current record, Holton is confident about the team’s chances this year. In an emailed response, she wrote, “We have some high standards for ourselves this year and we are looking to achieve our potential in the conference and beyond.” Looking at her experience at previous institutions like Notre Dame and her history with the game, this confidence seems well placed.
Holton played soccer all four years she attended Elmira College, a small liberal arts college in New York. It was during her time as a player there that she developed her love for coaching. In an emailed response, she wrote, “My college coach really gave me the support and opportunity to enter into the coaching ranks. I have always been interested in teaching and helping others, and coaching allows me this opportunity within a sport I’ve always loved.”
And the sport has reciprocated that love. Holton spent three years at Greensboro College, in North Carolina as an assistant coach. After that, having also earned her Master’s degree in psychology from High Point University, she was offered her first head-coaching job at Concordia University in Texas. Like Vassar, Concordia is a Division III school, and Holton spent the next three years building a very competitive and successful squad. “In my final year, we garnered a regional ranking, had the Freshman of the Year in the conference and I earned the Coach of the Year award.” Holton then spent the next year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, before spending last year with Division I University of Notre Dame. Holton is very excited to be coaching at Vassar. “Vassar has everything in place to be successful. Facilities, support and a solid foundation of talented players make for a great opportunity. [Its] academic reputation and national admissions reach made it an ideal next step. I think the women’s soccer team can achieve great success and is in a top conference in the country.” Not to mention that her parents live just two and a half hours away in southern Vermont.
It’s not just the facilities and her familial home that brought Holton here. She is also eager about the chance to work with Vassar’s student-athletes. “We have an extremely talented and intelligent group. It’s always entertaining and enlightening to be around them.” Holton added, “Intelligent, unique, free thinking student-athletes are always fun to coach. They bring a different perspective and always keep you on your toes.”
Holton appreciates what it is to be an athlete here at Vassar and that’s reflected in the words of senior and one of the co-captains, Sarah Bourenane. “She is serious not only about playing soccer, but also about the other aspects that affect our lives as student-athletes, such as nutrition and recovery, and of course academics,” Bourenane wrote in an emailed statement. “As a new coach she has challenged our team to compete with each other during practice and to hold ourselves accountable, which creates a high intensity environment that will make us all better players.”
If there were any hesitations about Holton and her new style as a new coach, the team and her have seemed to have adapted well together since they have had all of pre-season to work together. Senior co-captain Chloe Wheeler wrote in an emailed response, “It is always an adjustment with a new coach, but I think it has been for the most part a smooth adjustment. We are still getting to know her coaching style, as it is still very early on in the season, but with every game the play becomes more fluid as we adjust to tactical changes.”
Bourenane is very pleased and assured that Holton brings what the team needs to get to the level they need to be at to be successful in the national arena. “Coach likes to present us with various ideas, and then allow us as players to let those ideas flow naturally in the game. She wants us to be creative, but at the same time she holds us accountable to the fundamentals that are essential, such as 1v1 defending or winning balls in the air or serving a good cross, things like that.”
Wheeler shares Bourenane’s confidence in what Holton brings to the team. “As a former soccer player herself and [of] a lot of coaching experience, she is very smart about the game. She brings a competitive energy to practice that transfers over to games, and she knows our strengths as well as what we need to work on. We’ve been working a lot on tactical positioning and always anticipating the next play, which has helped us with staying connected as a team and being purposeful in our decisions on the field.”
As for the team’s chances this season Wheeler, like Holton, is confident that the team can repeat and surpass their record from last year. The Brewers lost in the opening game of the playoffs to a tough nationally ranked #3 William Smith College. This year, with the steady hand of Holton to guide the team, Wheeler said, “She knows what we need to focus on and what we need to accomplish this season to get to the Liberty League Championship and beyond.”
It promises to be an exciting season for the women’s team and Coach Holton. Holton knows her team has what it takes to get to Nationals, having wrote of the Brewers “We are a technical group. Our foot skills and abilities on the ball are great. We have a lot of talented smart players with high soccer IQ.” Wheeler feels that Holton is the right coach for the job. “…She is helping us to see what our potential as a team is, and to focus on us as a team rather than the opponent or outside factors.” Holton’s brought a new excitement and competitiveness to an already outstanding Brewer’s team that will take them to the next level, the Liberty League finals and beyond.