Peter Rock ‘23
On Monday, women’s soccer fell to Fordham 1-2 in overtime. The Wildcats were unable to find a win at the end of a season marked by ups and downs. After going undefeated in their first four conference games, the team lost four straight and were unable to bounce back and finish against Fordham. The team built a foundation on strong defense, but struggled to put games away.
In their 18 games this season, the Wildcats shut their opponents out nine times. In their eight losses, seven were decided by one point. The ‘Cats played ten A-10 games and allowed only nine goals in those games. The only team in the A-10 to allow fewer goals, the St. Louis Billikens, went undefeated against Conference matchups and finished the regular season at the top of the A-10.
Starting goalie Mary Grace Bunch ‘22 racked up the shutouts with the help of a united front on defense. According to Head Coach Adam Denton, “the team has been bought into defending as a unit and also attacking as a unit. Defending starts with the front players.”
Denton believes that the formations and discipline has allowed the team to be confident on defense while simultaneously emphasizing offense. Coach Denton elaborated, saying, “if you set out to defend you’re not going to win.”
The Wildcats offensive struggles have been a challenge in their A-10 games. Against La Salle, the ‘Cats recorded only two shots on goal. Forward Cameron France ‘20 pointed out that this was the first time the team had a chance at the A-10 tournament in years. “We’re putting a lot of pressure on ourselves. Nobody outside the team had very high expectations of us.” Working through their stagnation offensively may be what makes a difference as the team looks to make the tournament in upcoming years.
Beyond the losses, France emphasized that the team has been playing good soccer. “We do a great job stringing passes together and creating chances on goal.” Grit on offense is a strong part of the team’s identity. “We’re not the biggest team in the world so, watching players fight for every ball is really exciting,” France added.
The Wildcats are young and continuing to build. Over half the team is comprised of freshmen and sophomores. France, as a veteran, is excited about the team’s prospects “We have really talented freshmen this year. Four or five of them start each game.” These freshmen include midfielder Keeley Copper ‘23, midfielder Sophia Caruso ‘23, forward/midfielder Hailey Braemer ‘23 and defender Grace Voss ‘23. This young core has been able to become a part of the team from the jump. According to Coach Denton, a trip the team took during the preseason “helped the team become more cohesive.”
This has been important, as the team travels with only 22 of the 32 players on the roster. Coach Denton explained that as a result of this, “there’s competition but we really are a team. They’re really supportive of each other because they all want the team to do well.” The team aims to place value on attitude and effort, keeping the focus away from playing time. “There’s a lot of work done between November and May while the players are here that nobody sees,” according to Coach Denton.
The ‘Cats are working hard to make an impact in the competitive A10 conference. The work is paying off, and every year the team gets better.