It’s fitting that in the nation’s capital the women’s soccer team’s captains are not chosen by the coach, but through the democratic process of a team vote.
The Colonials voted senior Shari Taylor, junior Nicole Trickett and sophomore Kerry Philbin as the three captains for this season. The team does not seem to think that the varying years of experience is a problem. In fact, Taylor finds the age differences to be a good thing.
“Our team’s really young and we’re really lucky to have young leaders,” Taylor said. “It was a problem we had in the past. We embrace the fact that Kerry’s a leader.”
After finishing last season 5-12 and 2-7 in the Atlantic 10, Taylor said she thinks this year’s squad has what it takes to return to winning form.
The Colonials began the season 4-1-1 in their first six games, including two victories last weekend against Marshall and Morehead State at the Nike Invitational in Huntington, W. Va., and an 8-0 victory over Howard in the team’s home opener Wednesday.
The team’s quick turnaround may be attributed to a number of things. This year’s captains each bring something unique to the team while maintaining a sense of unity.
Taylor, a second-year captain, knows how to manage a squad and, with Trickett, is one of only five upperclassmen. Philbin is an important model for the younger players, showing the necessity of hard work and dedication.
“Shari, Nicole and Kerry have the respect of their teammates, but I think one of their outstanding qualities is the respect they each hold for every other member on this team,” head coach Tanya Vogel said. “They truly believe in their teammates, and that makes them easy to work with.”
It doesn’t hurt that the girls have become close friends. Taylor and Trickett are roommates. Philbin is decidedly quieter than her peers, but meshes well with her teammates.
“Off the field, everyone’s attitude, the work ethic, it’s very different (than in the past),” Trickett said. “Everyone’s there to work hard, so everyone has an impact. We have subs going in and no one complains. It makes a big difference. The whole team dynamic is much improved.”
The key to a winning season may lie in the team’s freshmen.
“We basically got a whole new lineup, and luckily for us it worked out really well,” Taylor said. “The freshmen are so eager to play and so hungry to play. You don’t want your team to be complacent, and that’s one thing that we’ve been working with this year. We want to get better every day, and I think our youth is something that helps us do that.”
Dara Rosen, a freshman from Rockville, Md., was named first team all-state during her senior season at Richard Montgomery High School. Rosen and her five classmates are expected to take an active role in making this season resemble the 2003 season, when Taylor, then a freshman, enjoyed an 11-6-2 record.
“I believe that each player on this team will contribute to the success of our program,” said Vogel, who played four seasons for the Colonials and is entering her seventh season as coach. “Our seniors are extraordinary workers and very smart tactically. I trust them with our program and with them out on in front, I know everyone else will continue to get better. I expect that each person, including (the coaches), will get better every day.”