Toughness Key to Johnnies’ Success

The women’s soccer team has set a goal of bettering its 9-9-1 record and first-round Big East Tournament exit that it recorded last season.

But to do that, according to head coach Ian Stone, the players are going to have to toughen up — especially in the aftermath of their uncompetitive 3-0 loss to Long Island rival Stony Brook on Sunday.

“I think there’s a lot of talent,” Stone said. “I think they could be a very, very tight team … I think we have a lot of potential, but I also think they have to become a little bit mentally tougher to get through those tough weekends.”

Tough weekends are the norm for the Red Storm. Weekends with games on Friday and Sunday are common — St. John’s already has had two like that, and will have four more as the season progresses, something Stone said his team is going to have to deal with.

“I don’t really like the quick turnaround,” Stone said, “but it’s something that we’ve prepared [for]. We did it last weekend, we did it in preseason, we’re going to have to do it all season. I don’t like it, but it’s the nature of the women’s college game – we play Friday, Sunday, and the girls know that.”

Compounding the issues with the schedule, the Johnnies have been without two of their veteran leaders. Junior keeper Lauren Ferris and junior midfielder Amy Marron have both been out with injuries.

In their stead, freshman Ellen Conway has taken charge between the posts, while fellow rookie Emily Cubbage has taken Marron’s place in the midfield, with surprisingly productive results — Cubbage netted the game-winner in the team’s Friday win over Air Force, while Conway has been lauded for her performance in goal.

“Ellen has done an amazing job in goal,” redshirt senior defender Megan Klement said. “It’s unbelievable — coming in as a freshman and not expecting to have to play in her first year because of Lauren, or getting just a couple minutes here and there. She’s come up with some big-time saves and saved our butts numerous times.

“Emily has just been working hard in every single game,” Klement added. “She ended up scoring the game-winning goal on Friday, which was a huge confidence builder for her and great for our team — we wouldn’t have won without her.”

Cubbage’s emergence means that Stone will face a selection dilemma in the midfield when Marron, one of the team’s best players in the preseason returns — something that he doesn’t necessarily mind.

“To me, it’s good because you have a healthy competition for places,” Stone said. “So Amy will play somewhere and the rest of them have to compete for other places.”

That competition, the team hopes, will make games like the Stony Brook loss an aberration.

“What you have to understand about the Stony Brook game was that was not a St. John’s women’s soccer typical performace especially on Belson Stadium,” Stone said. “So obviously I’m a bit down right now on the team, but there’s a saying in soccer: ‘You’re only as good as your last game.’”