Every year is the chance for a team to start over with a new season. They are given the opportunity to discover different ways to be successful. Finishing last year with a 10-4-4 season, the Queens College women’s soccer team is off to a solid 1-2-1 start.
With more than half of their team being first year players, the Lady Knights are determined to use the new members to aid them in returning to the East Coast Conference playoffs once more.
Recruiting six freshmen and one transfer student in his sixth year as head coach, Carl Christian has a positive outlook on the new diversity of the team.
“We’re a very young team this year so we’re learning on the fly,” Christian said. “We’re going to progress just as quickly as the new players adjust, along with the guidance and support the returners give.”
However, Christian faces challenges in dealing with a young team with little time. His main focus for the season lies in an overall improvement of the team and a transition from last year.
“It’s really more about developing the group that we have and trying to get them all on the same page; our biggest weakness right now lies in familiarity between players and adjusting our program to help integrate new players’ styles,” Christian said.
He also emphasized the opportunity the program gives new players to play for significant minutes and earn their spot on the field.
On Sept. 4, the team lost their first match in a close game against Post University, but bounced back with a triumphant 1-0 victory against Pace University with a winning goal by foward Erin Vernillo.
Vernillo, a freshman from Smithtown, N.Y., has appeared in both opening matches and understands the pressure of being a starting freshman on a college team.
“There are high expectations for you to succeed and to exceed those expectations,” Vernillo said.
With a large, talented incoming class, there is bound to be competition between new players.
“I have to keep reminding myself that my spot can be taken away at any second, so I strive to always work hard not only for my position, but for the team,” Vernillo said.
The Lady Knights’ strong defense, chemistry and speed on the field in their past three matches are strengths Vernillo is hoping will carry them throughout the season.
The pressure doesn’t just lie on the freshmen’s shoulders, but on the returning players as well.
“We [as returners] must be leaders and set an example as to how to act on and off the field. It’s important to encourage the freshmen especially knowing how nerve racking it is to play a college sport for the first time,” Nicolette Scrozzo, junior and forward, said.
Having this be her third year as a Lady Knight, Scrozzo discussed how the large freshmen group has added to the team’s dynamic compared to past seasons.
“They bring the talent and energy on the field that we needed. They are young, but have so much love for the game and a desire to win that’s beyond themselves,” she said.
In regards to the playoffs, Scrozzo believes the team will have “the talent and capability to compete once [they] find that groove between new players and returnees.”
“It takes every individual’s determination to win each game to advance us to the playoffs as a team,” Scozzo said.
The Lady Knights faces Adelphi on Saturday, Sept. 20, in an away game.