The women’s soccer team kicked off its 2017 season this past weekend on the road against Alfred University, winning 4-1. The Hawks also played the University of Rochester the following day, which resulted in a 2-1 loss in overtime.
First-year midfielder Jessica Levinson found the back of the net twice in the opening game, while the other two goals came from first-year forward Monika Morasse and fourth-year forward Danielle Grossi. Fourth-year goalkeeper Katelyn Cordero started in net and made four saves while only allowing one goal.
Grossi scored the lone Hawks goal in the second game and fourth-year forward Gabriela Cabello recorded a game-high two shots on goal in the overtime loss.
While the team has 11 returning players from the previous season, there have been some changes in the personnel with seven first years joining the team, the biggest change being Mike Eckberg’s appointment to head coach this past spring. Hawks women’s lacrosse head coach Keith Detelj also joined the staff as an assistant coach. Eckberg likes the way the freshmen have made the jump from high school to college soccer so far.
“There has been a good dynamic between the freshmen and the seniors so far,” Eckberg said. “Sometimes freshmen can transition to the college level at different paces, but so far I have confidence in our freshmen to contribute this season.”
The transition to a new head coach has been a fairly seamless on the team, according to fourth-year defender Julia Friedman who played over 1,593 minutes last season.
“It has been a very smooth transition having Coach Eckberg and Coach Detelj join our coaching staff,” Friedman said. “Already they have had a strong impact on this program, challenging us every day to reach a new level within ourselves. Their hard work is extremely inspiring and I fully believe that they are going to turn this program into a winning one.”
Given the disappointing 1-15-2 record the team sustained last season, the Hawks were ranked 10th out of 10 in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) preseason poll. Even with the low ranking, coach Eckberg didn’t view it as a slight.
“Obviously the SUNYAC is a competitive conference, but nobody but us has an idea of the work we’ve put in this preseason,” Eckberg said. “We just have to keep focusing on ourselves and not what other people think of us and the results will come for us.”
When it comes to overall goals for the season, coach Eckberg is not just worried about wins and losses.
“I want to change the culture for the better, we’ve been focused on the process of doing things instead of solely focusing on results.”
Friedman echoed her coach’s sentiment when talking about team goals for the season.
“A goal for us would be to make it to playoffs, but ultimately the main goal is to give everything we have to this program in order to improve it and leave it better than how we found it.”
On Wednesday, Sept. 6 the Hawks defeated Ramapo College 1-0 to earn their second win of the season, eclipsing last season’s total. Second-year midfielder Nicole Sheintul scored the lone goal of the game off an assist from Friedman. First-year goalkeeper Megan Tornatore made four saves to earn the shutout victory.
A common theme in this new era of New Paltz women’s soccer is changing the culture and working on the process of becoming a winning program by working hard and being committed to success.