Women’s Soccer Team Goes Beyond Goals

Caitlin Meehan, Reporter

The women’s soccer team is  undefeated in the 2014 NSCAA Division III conference, and it has been ranked as high as number nine in the nation this season.

“I’m proud that we have been able to remain undefeated in the conference.  Every year our goal is to remain undefeated in conference and to give up zero goals in conference play,” said Megan Mahoney, captain and forward . “It is nice that the NSCAA has recognized that we are a talented team and has consistently ranked us within the top 25 teams in the nation.”

Mahoney was recently selected as Wendy’s Athlete of the Month.  “I’m very grateful and appreciative that Wendy’s and Misericordia selected me as one of the Athlete’s of the Month.  There are so many talented athletes at this school, and I’m honored that they decided to pick me as one of the few to receive that award.”

The women’s soccer team trains during the off-season just like professional soccer teams. The year-round training improves their skills off the field, which attributes to their success.

“Being undefeated in conference is always a good feeling, but at this point it has become an expectation for us. We are not willing to accept anything less. We work so hard year round to become the team we are, and it’s rewarding to see that hard work pay off and earn us the championships that all conference teams strive for,” said Maureen Ciccosanti, captain and goalie. Holding a high national ranking is an amazing feeling. Coming into college, I had never expected to have this much success. We work hard 365 days a year to earn that ranking.”

The day before each game, the team’s practice includes a lot of drills involving shooting on goal to improve the confidence of the forward players. The goalie benefits by getting a lot of reps and shots to block. It is also one of the hardest practice days for the goalie because of all of those shots. At the same time, it is one of the easiest practices for field players because they get a chance to rest their bodies and be refreshed the next day.

Mahoney said she is challenged by playing forward.

“As a forward I am responsible for creating goal-scoring opportunities for my team.  I am also responsible for finishing opportunities that my other teammates create for me.”

The role of goalie is more complicated than just keeping the ball out of the net, said  Ciccosanti. “It is also my job to constantly communicate with the defense and keep us in shape. I have to see the whole field and communicate with the backs to solve any defensive problems. Not many people realize how much thinking a keeper has to do. My mind is constantly racing throughout the entire game, trying to anticipate the other team’s offense and how to stop it. I have to make split-second decisions and there is no room for error. It is my job to make the right decision every single time, because if I don’t, it will result in a goal.”

The team is preparing to be top seed in the conference.  A first place ranking in the conference tournament would give the team home field advantage for the playoffs and the championship game.

“Having the home field advantage allows us to play on the field we practice on almost every day. We are comfortable playing on that field and we are amped up by the support of our friends and families. Traveling can sometimes throw off your game. It helps us stay focused to be in our own locker room and not have to worry about sitting on a bus for however many hours,” said Ciccosanti.

“It’s always easier to win games that you play at home versus games that you play away.  At home you’re comfortable on your field and you have your home fans to cheer you on,” Mahoney said.

Ciccosanti added that winning takes more than athleticism.

“First and foremost, you obviously need to have the technical skills and fitness to be a good player, but you must also have a technical understanding of the formation and where you are supposed to be when, and what run you should be making for whom. You need to be mentally tough and push through exhaustion and discouragement. You need to study film and put in practice outside of our team training sessions. You need to pay attention to the little details, and so you have to stay focused for every second of the game.”

She said the best players do not lose focus, and they make the sacrifices off the field to take care of their bodies and minds,” said Ciccosanti.

Mahoney said that passion is also important for success.   “If you aren’t passionate about it then it will be very hard to motivate yourself enough to work as hard as you need to in order to really succeed.  If you love the game then it will be way easier to put in all the extra time you need to in order to improve your skills.”

Coach Mark Stauffer recently celebrated his 200th win coaching the women’s soccer team.