The women’s soccer team bears little resemblance to the squad that suited up for the Colonials last season, with a predominantly new roster and a fresh face to lead the team.
Sarah Barnes will take to the sidelines, following the retirement of coach Tanya Vogel in the offseason. The team will feature 11 freshmen, a large incoming recruiting class that seems to point to an inexperienced roster.
But Barnes is quick to point out that the team also includes several capable seniors and juniors.
Senior forward Kayley Sullivan and senior midfielder Molly Bruh were named team captains over the summer, but Barnes will also rely on the veteran leadership from senior defender Samie Cloutier and senior forward Adriana Moya.
“I am really looking forward to being one of the major playmakers on this team. We do have a lot of young players, but the veterans are doing as much as they can to incorporate everyone and get everyone on the same page,” Moya said. “We are trying to build off of the goals that we set, and we want to reach those goals.”
Barnes has lofty goals for her first season as head coach. She wants to see a program breakthrough, looking for the Colonials to make an impact on the Atlantic 10 in her first year at the helm of the team.
GW finished 11th of 14 in the A-10 last season, failing to qualify for the postseason tournament for the ninth year in a row.
It’s time to turn that slide around, Barnes said.
“Our players want to raise the reputation of the program, which means that we are always competing in games. And they want to make the conference tournament this year. That means that we are in the top eight and have that shot at postseason play,” Barnes said. “We all believe that we will reach our goal.”
Her commitment to success begins with an emphasis on physical fitness. Several Colonials commented on Barnes’ focus on fitness training during the preseason, with each player required to compete a fitness test for the new head coach.
Along with increasing the expectations for players’ effort off the field, Barnes said the quickest way for the program to grow is for inexperienced members to pick up from the veterans.
“Obviously we are going to rely on those older players while having those young players coming in and helping and contributing in ways. But you do see a number of the older players who will play significant minutes,” Barnes said.
Though the veterans will provide important leadership, the Colonials have shown recently that underclassmen can shine as key members of the roster. Sophomore forward Meg Murphy was an impact player as a freshman, providing arguably the most memorable moment of the 2011-12 season when she netted the game-winning goal in overtime against Xavier.
Barnes’ formula is simple: She believes in a squad that is organized and disciplined defensively, as well as a team that establishes a strong network of support. It’s a message that’s already reached the newest members of the roster.
“Everyone on this team is close. The freshmen aren’t just with the freshman, and the juniors aren’t just with the juniors,” freshman forward Kristi Abbate said. “Everyone is close, and the seniors do definitely take pride in their job as leaders and keep us all in line, so that we know what we are supposed to do. They are the leaders.”