The State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz Women’s Soccer season started on Sept. 1 with “the toughest start out schedule ever,” according to Head Coach Colleen Bruley.
Despite the difficult schedule, Bruley said the team is still full of confidence and she believes “other teams should be worried” about the current group of players taking the field this season.
With a record last season of 5-8-5, the team is in a frenzy to improve. Last year, the Hawks finished the year with 0.61 goals scored per game against a 0.91 they gave up. However, by giving up less than one goal per game, the Hawks were able to build their team around what they felt was a strong defense. This year, the team hopes to continue to build on the foundation of their team. Coaches can look forward to the return of all 11 starters from last season.
Bruley said she believed some players could be key components in their success this year, including second-year students Shelby Kondelka and Emily Rokitowski.
Kondelka is a starter up top who Bruley described as “very dangerous,” and Rokitowski is a center midfielder who Bruley said has taken up a leadership role among the other midfielders. Bruley was particularly excited about first-year center midfielder Jessica Bonczyk who she believes is “getting better and better every game.”
Second-year Sam Abravanel, a forward and leading scorer for the team last year is excited for the rest of the season, and while she knows the team still has much to work on, she strongly believes that the Hawks “can do some damage.”
The hopes of future success were almost dashed when the team suffered the early loss of fourth-year captain Emily Buckner to a debilitating broken collarbone, which she received during a preseason scrimmage. Filling in for Buckner this year will be left midfielder Beth Bowling, who according to Bruley has “done a great job and is a strong asset on that side.”
The Hawks have started off the season 1-4-1, but are in the midst of a five-game road trip. The Hawks will hope to capitalize on their upcoming six-game home stand in early October against fellow SUNY schools Geneseo, Pottsdam and Plattsburgh, amongst others, with intentions of landing in the SUNYAC Tournament in November.
Bruley said she feels confident about this year’s team and believes “the team is stronger now” and that the new lineup is “starting to click.”
As for SUNYAC, Abravanel said that her hopes for the coming conference were to “Just do it, get there, and achieve it.”