03 Sep 2021 Women’s Soccer Season Preview
Syracuse, N.Y. – The 2021 season brings a fresh start for the Le Moyne women’s soccer team, and the squad will look to use their toughness and grittiness to compete for a conference championship once again.
“We tell the players every spring that nothing is given, it’s a brand new start,” said head coach Carrie Bonus.
In the two scrimmages they’ve held in the leadup to their season opener against Lake Erie College on September 4th, Bonus, entering her sixth year on The Heights, has liked what she’s seen.
“Our defensive pressure has been very nice. A couple people watched our games and are describing us as pretty gritty and hard working, which I absolutely love, because that is something we pride ourselves on everyday at practice. Our communication is something that we’re always harping on, but they’ve done really well, we just seem to be gelling really nicely already this early as a unit so we’re hoping to continue that.”
Following a 2019 campaign that was marred by injuries to key players and then the postponement of the 2020 season, this 2021 Dolphins squad is focused on continuing to improve while also staying healthy for the long haul. Said coach Bonus, “… we’re trying not to overload them too much with the winning part of it and just understand it’s a process, it’s a marathon not a sprint… so this year we’re trying to really keep that balance of working them hard but keeping them healthy as best we can.”
Through the injuries sustained and the narrow defeats endured throughout the 2019 season, the team never quit.
“I think you learn more unfortunately through sometimes when you lose than when you’re winning, so we learned a lot in 2019. Even when it was the last game of our season, you would have never known what our record was. This group fought every game, every practice, you could come to a practice, and they were competing just as hard.”
And while they did not get to practice or play as a full team during the fall of 2020, they still found ways to get better.
“We actually really enjoyed the smaller groups we had to have (while following COVID protocols). We were kind of more intimately able to spend time with them on a one-on-one basis which I think they enjoyed; we got a lot of good feedback there.”
Since the team gathered to begin their first preseason together in two years, Coach Bonus has liked the energy her team has shown. “I think they got a renewed sense of excitement just to be part of it, even practice, I think they’re really excited to be back out there and playing.”
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and Bonus thinks her players have a greater sense of appreciation for the game and being a part of the team after not getting the opportunity to compete in 2020.
“I think they gained an appreciation for (the game), they realize how fragile it is and, especially our upperclassmen, see how quick it can be taken away.”
They are also keenly aware of the challenges they are going to face throughout the season, especially in conference play.
“In this conference you can’t take a day off,” said Bonus. “There are no ‘gimme’ games in the Northeast-10 in women’s soccer.”
The Dolphins players are given a lot of ownership in the way the culture and team work ethic are established. Bonus is confident that her veteran leaders know what is expected of them, during their championship season and in the spring when they must stay up to speed with workouts and their fitness. The head coach is also looking forward to the team bonding experiences that occur throughout the ebbs and flows of a full championship season.
“I’m just looking forward to road trips again, we love road trips, eating as a team. We missed a lot of that during COVID. Being able to high five somebody, being able to tell somebody ‘good job’ and hug them, we missed that comradery.”
On the pitch the Dolphins have a lot to be excited about. In net, they return junior Allison Moreau (Sauquoit, N.Y./Sauquoit Valley), who Bonus describes as a natural athlete with great hands. “…we can play her feet, she can distribute, she’s kinda the whole package.” The goalkeeping group is rounded out by senior Meaghan Wilson (Baldwinsville, N.Y./C.W. Baker), and redshirt freshman Elizabeth Western (Lowville, N.Y./Lowville), the trio establishing some healthy competition in the goalkeeping department according to Bonus, that will surely lead to growth and improvement for the Dolphins last line of defense.
The squad also boasts some depth within their defensive unit, benefiting from the return of Vittoria Fuduli (East Meadow, N.Y./East Meadow) after a long ACL recovery process. While Fuduli has not played in more than two years, Bonus said you would not know it from watching her and expects Fuduli to anchor the Dolphins defense going forward. First-year defenders Camille Burruano (Buffalo, N.Y./Grand Island) and Hildur Unnarsdóttir (Kópavogur, Iceland/Commercial College of Iceland) will also see some action on defense, infusing the back line with some youth, while Rachel Wengender (Webster, N.Y./Webster Schroeder) provides speed and experience to the Le Moyne defensive unit.
The squad also has plenty of talent in the midfield, returning veteran players Lainey Foti (Syracuse, N.Y./Jamesville-Dewitt), Ali Greco (Niskayuna, N.Y./Niskayuna) and Katharine Stanard (Baldwinsville, N.Y./Christian Brothers Academy) and adding redshirt freshman Magda Aspholm (Östersund, Sweden/Jamtlands Gymnasium Wargentin) into the mix.
Bonus requires a high level of fitness from her midfielders, as they hold a great deal of responsibility in the Dolphins game plan, “… everything goes through our midfield, if they win 50-50 balls, keep our possession, make good decisions, everything kind of works. If they fall apart and aren’t active and moving off the ball and aren’t involved in pretty much everything, it’s very hard to have success.”
While acknowledging it’s still very early on in the season, through their two scrimmages in the preseason Bonus says her midfielders have the right ideas and the appropriate work rate to drive team success.
On the attacking side of things, the Dolphins return seniors Hannah Brown-Trice (Seneca Falls, N.Y./Mynderse Academy) and Maddison Vine (Ogdensburg, N.Y./Lisbon), who each put away two goals during the 2019 season.
The team opens the regular season at Ted Grant Field on Saturday, September 4th at Noon against Lake Erie College, followed by a visit to Caldwell University on September 11th at 11:00 AM. They begin conference play at home against Pace University on September 15th at 4:00 PM.
The team is also looking forward to having fans in the stands to cheer them on. “Our parents are phenomenal, they travel everywhere,” said Bonus. “We love having fans there, our fellow sports teams that are there to support us mean more than we can even share. It’s just a really cool atmosphere. We think we have a pretty nice little brand of soccer that they’re playing right now, we hope we can put on a good show.”
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