The women’s soccer team’s roster received a major facelift during the course of this past off-season.
After an abysmal season in which the team won only six games, this year’s team now includes 15 freshmen. And it’s already one victory away from matching last year’s win total.
The man at the helm of the women’s soccer program is Coach Ian Stone. Stone is entering his 13th season with the team and now has 112 career victories after the win against Syracuse. His total makes him the coach with the most career victories in St. John’s women’s soccer history. With all that experience, he definitely sees a difference in this year’s team.
“We have more depth,” Stone said. “The 15 freshmen have created more competition for places. It’s elevated the whole program.”
The “whole program” now includes only six upperclassmen, but the team appears to be well-balanced in winning ways even if it is not level in age.
“On paper, it (the incoming class) looks good,” Coach Stone said. “But the personality makes it better than it looks. People are brought in that are from winning programs, and they want to win. It’s turning into a real team effort.”
Team effort appears to be the central focus of this squad as there has been no naming of a team captain. “You kind of put them (captains) on pedestals, and others don’t assume leadership roles,” Stone said.
Senior Erin Bohn agrees with her coach. “Not having a captain is a good thing,” she said. “When someone tells you something, you know they are telling you that because they are willing to go and do it themselves and they are not just hiding behind a title. It helps put us all on equal footing.”
While the incoming class seems to be the majority, the returning upperclassmen are still making very healthy contributions. Bohn and junior Krystle Jalalian have both scored a goal on the young season, and Natasha Lee has matched last year’s total of four.
Also paying strong dividends for the St. John’s is their junior goalkeeper Jaime Beran, who currently has 0.51 goals against average. She had a 1.17 average just a year ago.
“She is a calming influence on the team,” said Coach Stone. “In women’s soccer, the goalie is very important. It can win or lose teams the game and she wins us games.”
Beran attributes the team for her decline in goals allowed. “I’ve improved over the summer, but it’s mostly been my team,” she said. “They have been the ones who have helped me out a lot in keeping the ball out of the net. Our team speed and ball movement are our greatest assets.”
Age is not the only way that this team is diverse, though.
Geographically, the team is composed of players with hometowns that are located on both the east and west coasts of the United States. There are also players, such as Susan Byrne (Ireland), Sarah McGrath (Ireland), and Vaila Barsley (England), who call other countries home.
While the players might be foreign, their love for the game translates onto any field and their teammates can see it. “Vaila has a passion for the game that is bigger than anyone else’s,” junior Julianna Cohen said. “Because she was born into a culture that is very heavy into the sport, she plays with that kind of passion and she rubs off on people.”
The mixture of talent from home and abroad is already bearing fruit with the team’s success already being displayed on the field. After playing six games, the team is still unbeaten and sports a 5-0-1 record.The latest victory came against host Syracuse on the 15th. After Barsley’s header tied the score at two in the 88th minute, Natasha Lee came through with the game-winning goal with 32 seconds remaining in the second overtime.
“Realistically, we should make the Big East tournament; that’s our goal every year,” Coach Stone said. “We have the potential; we just have to stay lucky and injury-free. We play an attractive style of soccer [and] we have creative players. There are going to be goals scored and hopefully they are for us.”