After losing 2-0 in the semi-finals last year to rivals, Bridgeport, the Queens College women’s soccer team looks to build their growing success this season. During their preseason, the Lady Knights hoped to gain – as head coach Carl Christian placed it – “match fitness and confidence.”
The team aims to ensure a playoff spot in the East Coast Conference, however the road to achieve it will not be easy. A change for the team will be the loss of last season’s captain and goalkeeper Alison Breakey, who had a .825 save percentage and amassed 85 saves. Junior, Mersina Onesto is the starting goalkeeper this season.
“Allie was a tremendous player and leader for us for four years and we’re sorry to see her go, but that’s college soccer,” Christian said. “Mersina is her own person and she possesses some individual strengths of her own and has shown herself to be a capable replacement. It is important that our team gives her the same support and protection that it gave Allie, that enabled her to post such great career numbers and I’m sure Mersina will stake her own claim onto the position.”
The Lady Knights added three new transfer students and one freshman to the team and includes eight seniors on the roster.
Moreover, the loss of striker Sarah Boucher, midfielder Christina Porco and defender Emma Ylias has made Christian think more about fitness ahead of matches due to the small sized squad — 17 players — compared to previous seasons.
“The new players will hopefully help to offset the loss of players that have moved on, and establish their own identity on the team,” Christian said. “Our numbers are somewhat smaller this year, as a result the squad’s health and fitness will likely play a critical factor in the teams’ success.”
Christian noted that he was satisfied that the team returned to the ECC last season stronger and more confident than in 2011. Yet, he stated that there were some problems that were outside their control that affected their energy in the playoffs.
“Unfortunately, things were anticlimactic from that point due to the difficulties caused by [Hurricane] Sandy and our preparations for the playoffs were far from ideal, as a result. I believe that we had the talent to advance and could well have gone further, if things would have worked out differently. That’s the challenge for our current crop of players and hopefully they deliver,” Christian said.
According to a recent ECC women’s soccer preseason poll, the team was ranked to finish fourth out of ten teams this season. The rankings were conducted by all of the head women’s soccer coaches in the conference.
The attitude by Christian and the team is achieving success that goes beyond last season, specifically, to win the playoffs and move on to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II National Championships.
“For our team to have a ‘successful’ season, we need to win 10+ games, and not only advance to the playoffs, but have success once we get there. That is the challenge we’ve set ourselves for this season. A conference championship comes with an automatic bid to the national tournament, ultimately that is where we’re trying to get to,” Christian said.
The Lady Knights won their first game of the season against Pace University in the Mercy College Tournament on Sept.6 with a 1-0 shutout. Rebecca LaPorte scored the only goal with an assist by Kristina Ikonomou. Their first home game is on Sept.11 against Adelphi.