The Oswego State women’s soccer team enters the 2010 season with a young but experienced group. The Lakers are led by fourth-year head coach Brian McGrane and tri-captains Laura Ambron, Toby Klein and Kelly Morritt.
Oswego State looks to improve upon a 2009 campaign where they finished 7-9-1. The team lost five seniors, which provides an opportunity for newcomers.
"The people we have coming in have good attitudes, and the returning players have stepped it up," Ambron said. "I think altogether we’ll be able to pick up what we lost."
Oswego State lost just more than one-third of its goals from a year ago (13 of 36), but return leading scorer Shelly Bateman. She registered 16 goals during her freshman campaign. The jump from year one to two will be an important one for Bateman and the Lakers.
"I can’t hesitate and second guess myself," Bateman said. "I just have to do it, because that’s when I’ll beat people."
"Now she’s got a target on her back," McGrane said. "She’s got (to) be able to adapt. Instead of taking two people on and five touches, she can only take one or two touches and move off the ball. A huge attribute for her is the surrounding players that we brought in."
Newcomers for Oswego State include freshmen midfielders Melissa Sluka, Britt Williams, Allegra Uva, Kaylie Ewers, Kelly Adams, forwards Nikki Liadka, Amanda Malone, Kara Peck and defender Liz Conrad.
Sophomore goalkeeper Christina Fregosi returns with one year of valuable experience in net. McGrane expects a bright future for the young net minder. They’ve been working extra hard on her punting and net skills each day, and she has spent extra time in the weight room.
"I’ve been very impressed with her," McGrane said. "In the next three years I expect big things from her."
With a strong core of returning defensive players along with a slew of gritty newcomers Oswego State looks to have a solid fortress at the back. Bateman said the team’s strength is definitely its defense.
"Defensively, they’re almost all returning," Bateman said. "Always close games–one or two goals."
McGrane and Bateman have both noticed early that the team has a tendency to stay back and overprotect.
"We need to work on getting forward when we can," Bateman said. "Sometimes we just hang back and play defense the whole game. We’ve got to push forward and take chances to score goals."
"We need to start having an offensive minded attacking mode," McGrane said. "We’ve got to be able to defend even numbers, or down. We’ve got to get up in order to score goals."
Something else the team hopes to improve on is its fitness level. In 2009, the Lakers scored twice as many goals in the first half as they did in the second. Coach McGrane says proper fitness could be the reason for this.
"We’re not trained enough soccer-wise," McGrane said. "You can go out and run all you want but as soon as you make that quick sprint in a game it’s much different than going for a run. That’s kind of the problem we’re having. The only really healing is rest. Unfortunately, we don’t have time to rest."
As of Sept. 7, the Lakers have three starters injured in freshmen Nikki Liadka and Melissa Sluka, along with captain Laura Ambron. They hope to be ready for Saturday’s home opener against Rochester Institute of Technology at 1 p.m.
Coach McGrane’s team looks to improve upon last year’s record and clinch a berth in the SUNYAC tournament. According to McGrane and Ambron, the team is a tight-knit group.
"We’ve gotten along very well so far. We don’t seem to have any attitudes," McGrane said.
"We have to have good attitudes on the field if something goes wrong," Ambron said. "We have to be there for each other and push each other. Focus on the goal and fight through everything."
The Lakers look to be a defensive team in 2010 with strong depth off the bench and a variety of different scoring options. Most important of all, they are a united group.
"I think the bonding is a big strength, us trusting each other, becoming a family and knowing each other on and off the field," Ambron said.