Despite a recent string of close losses and a tie against aggressive competition resulting in a current record of 1-4-1, the Vassar College women’s soccer team continues to uphold their morale while moving into upcoming games.
Head coach Corey Holton, who acknowledges the importance of playing highly talented opponents prior to moving into the Liberty League, leads the women for the third year in a row.
“We have been playing high level competition and these games will inevitably get us prepared for playing against rivals in the Liberty League,” she commented. “We are facing great teams and competing along with them.”
With an incoming freshmen class of six players, the Brewers look to offset the loss of four graduated seniors, including starting goalkeeper Emma Nichols and captain midfielder Lucy Brainerd.
Nichols was designated to the Liberty League First-Team All League, starting in all 18 games and recording 83 saves throughout the season. Finishing second on the team with goals and overall points, Brainerd was selected for the Liberty League Second-Team.
The Brewers will also attempt to fill in the role of another Liberty League First-Team player, junior Jessica Schwed, who anchored the defense of the team, starting in every game last season. Schwed quit after the fifth game of the season.
Senior captain Kelsey Hamm commented on the large magnitude of the last two class sizes and their significance to the team. “We have some sophomores and freshmen who have been stepping up their game big time, such as Megan Coughlan, a sophomore defender,” she said.
Aside from these impactful losses, the lineup maintains eight of its 11 starters, which will help to accommodate the new players quickly.
“The majority of our current team is made up of returners, so the chemistry on the field wasn’t too hard to get back,” sophomore forward Audrey Pillsbury explained. “All the freshmen have brought up our team’s level of play. It’s also been instrumental having Stephanie back in goal after spending her junior year abroad.”
Senior captain Emily Krebs agreed, further noting, “Although we have without a doubt lost some great talent, I think we have had a smooth transition due to different people stepping up right away. The absence of those lost is not greatly felt on the field.”
A mass of the team is made up of the sophomore class, which contains 11 returning players. With the experience of last season, these women are ready to contribute the knowledge and skill they gained along to their current season.
As captains, both Krebs and Hamm look to mentor their team to their overarching goal, the Liberty League playoffs and ultimately the NCAAs. Senior Jordyn Matthews and Audrey Pillsbury, along with Krebs, will be anticipated to take control of the attacking end and net goals throughout upcoming games for the Brewers.
Returning players Amanda McFarland and Sara Seper are expected to contribute to the midfield along with last year’s Liberty League Rookie of the Year, sophomore Rebecca Andrews, who led the women’s soccer team in both goals and points last year. She has already netted one goal this season, and she will likely contribute much more in the upcoming games for the Brewers.
The team currently rosters four goalies, working to fill the role that Nichols has left empty, including seniors Stephanie Tapolsky and Phoebe Reuben, as well as sophomore Katie Emery and incoming freshman Camelia Manring.
Coach Holton remains confident that this year’s team will become even stronger than in it has been in seasons past. She remarked, “Every player is leading others from their own strengths. We have already learned a lot from this season and we’re growing together to become stronger overall.”
This past Saturday, the team tied No. 24 SUNY Oneonta 2-2 at home. Though Oneonta got on the scoreboard first, its lead did not last for long. Their first goal was returned with back-to-back goals from the Brewers. Freshman midfielder Savannah Cutler returned Oneonta’s first point, finding an open net after breaking away on a pass to score her first career goal for Vassar.
Andrews found the top right corner of the net next with an assist from freshman defender Jordan Moss, bringing the team to a lead over Oneonta, 2-1. Despite fighting to hold on to this lead, Oneonta scored on a header, bringing the game to a tie at two goals each.
In the succeeding overtime, neither team was able to find a final goal to secure the win. Despite the tie, the Brewers dominated the game’s shooting statistics. While Oneonta took seven shots in total, the Brewers were able to take 17 shots in total and place 10 of those on goal.
“Although it was disappointing to not get the win, we were all pleased with our performance. It was a step in the right direction for us,” said Pillsbury. “Oneonta was great competition and getting a point against them gave us the confidence we need heading into league games.”
Each member and coach of the team is eager to continue on into the regular play of their season, gaining wins in the Liberty League and leaving behind their string of close losses and ties.
Holton reported, “We’re digging ourselves out of a hole and we’re climbing out together. The effort, the heart and the determination of this entire group are admirable. We are taking the season day-by-day and game-by-game.”
The Brewers will look to secure their second win of the season against Montclair State University this Wednesday, Sept. 21. Following that competition, the women will start Liberty League play against Skidmore College at home at 2 p.m.