Ponder these numbers: 3-15-1 overall record, a ninth-place conference finish, 16 goals scored and 44 goals scored against.
Those are the statistics of the 1999 GW women’s soccer team under former head coach Michele Rodriguez-Smith. But, that was last year, before the arrival of Tanya Vogel as new head coach.
Vogel graduated from GW in 1996 after an amazing collegiate career in which she was a four-year letter winner. She was also a member of GW’s most successful team her senior season when the team went 10-7-4 and earned a NCAA Tournament bid. Vogel ranks fifth among all-time scoring leaders with 52 points (21 goals, 10 assists) and was team captain her junior and senior years.
She was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and was a member of the first team Mid-Atlantic All-Region squad her senior season. As a freshman Vogel told then-coach and current University of Maryland coach Shannon Higgins-Cirovski that her goal was to one day coach the Colonials.
Vogel achieved that goal and comes to GW after serving one year as assistant coach at Cornell University and two years as an assistant at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
As she prepared to be head coach, Vogel said she received advice from friends and fellow coaches – some of which she has ignored.
The advice people gave me was to put up a wall and be more distanced from my players, which I think is absolutely incorrect, Vogel said.
Vogel admits one of the hardest things about coaching is that now she has to make the tough decisions.
When you have to come down and discipline kids – that’s not fun when you are the bad guy, Vogel said.
But if Vogel’s team responds well to her style of coaching, Vogel will have no problem being the good guy.
The members of this year’s team, which returns eight starters, hope to put the dismal numbers from last year behind them. Seniors Melissa Schreibstein and Malynda Nichol will lead the Colonials into battle this year. Vogel said she is looking for everyone to step up and assume leadership roles.
I think leadership begins when you are a freshman, Vogel said. We have some strong leadership with Melissa and Malynda and we have a great junior class, which has stepped up and become great leaders. Everyone on this team takes on a lot of responsibility.
Vogel aid she is encouraged by the team’s performance. She said the game against No. 23 Maryland is a tribute to the team’s continued improvement. Despite losing 3-0 to the host Terrapins and Higgins-Cirovski, the Colonials played hard and showed a great deal of confidence.
Vogel and assistant coach Brian Pensky, who is in his third year, have stressed confidence to their players. Both coaches said they want the players to know how good they are and how tough they are to beat when they all work together.
Vogel said she depends on all her players – not just the eleven players on the field, but also the fourteen players on the sidelines who are cheering on their teammates.
In 19 games last year, the Colonials scored only 16 goals while their opponents scored 44. The team was shut out nine times. Vogel, who rarely had trouble scoring goals in her four-year GW career, said she is aware of the scoring problems last year but is not giving too much attention to the situation.
We are trying to teach the players to play the game of soccer, Vogel said. We are not focusing specifically on finishing. The goals will come as the players continue to grow and develop as a team.
Vogel said she likes the team’s early non-conference schedule because she feels it will provide the team with many challenges and confidence-building opportunities.
I think our schedule has been great because we’ve played quite a few strong teams, especially Princeton and Maryland, and our hope is to enter the A-10 season prepared to play the A-10 and to win the A-10, Vogel said. I don’t think that’s overshooting where we can be.
Vogel said she hopes to erase last year’s bad memories and establish a winning tradition as a head coach that she was accustomed to as a player. GW women’s soccer has a new, but familiar face – and it is that of Tanya Vogel.