It’s the end of April and while some people at Manhattan College are mainly focused on softball or lacrosse, Manhattan’s women’s soccer team is focused on its upcoming fall season.
After its 2015 campaign, which resulted in multiple broken records, the team wants to go even further in 2016.
“Win the MAACs,” both Nicole Aylmer and Jenny Bitzer answered at the same time when asked about their overall goal for the upcoming season.
Last fall, the Jaspers made it to the MAAC Championship for the first time in school history. They had a season of broken records and high-ranked players, both in the league and nationally. They notched 11 victories and a school record 21 points in conference play.
After earning the second seed and a first-round bye, Manhattan played fourth-seeded Rider in the MAAC Semifinals. A 3-1 victory brought the Jaspers to their first-ever MAAC Championship. However, they fell 5-2 to sixth-seeded Siena in the final game.
Despite the loss, it was a season for the record books. Head coach Brendan Lawler was voted the Lids Team Sports MAAC Coach of the Year. Kristen Skonieczny was named Goalkeeper of the Year. Bitzer earned Defensive Player of the Year. Erica Modena and Nicole Copping earned spots on the All-MAAC First Team and Copping also got All-Rookie honors.
With all of that success, the team is looking at last season to push even further this coming season. Getting that close and just missing the title is the team’s drive now and will be throughout the season to get back to the championships.
“I think it’s definitely a big motivator knowing we made it that far we can make it there again,” Aylmer said. “We just need to stay focused and not take anything lightly.”
The team had about two weeks of rest after its season ended before it picked it back up with light training and workouts. After winter break, full workouts started five days a week through April.
“We do a lot of lower body workouts,” Aylmer said, “with soccer you need that lower body strength. We do core stability and then once we’re outside we do cardio and body weight exercises.”
One thing that will benefit the team next season is the addition of seven incoming freshmen. The Jaspers are losing six core seniors in Skonieczny, Emily Ude, Tiffanie McIntosh, Colleen Kavanagh, Taylor Salkowsky and Sam Washuk. But Brendan Lawler believes the incoming freshmen will bring the same quality and depth that the seniors did.
“We are extremely excited about next season,” Lawler said to GoJaspers.com. “Coming off one of the best years in program history where we relied a great deal on our seniors, we knew we needed a class that would add the same quality and depth right away that they brought us.”
The incoming freshmen include three defenders, two forwards and two goalkeepers, which Bitzer said is a luxury for the Jaspers to now have two more backup goalies instead of just one.
“Where our past classes helped us make the climb toward the top of the conference,” Lawler said, “we will now be relying on this group and all of our returners to help us stay there and go one step further.”