By Angelica Niedermeyer, Asst. Sports Editor
Manhattan College students cheer in the stands of Gaelic Park as the buzzer goes off and the scoreboard reads a Jaspers win for women’s soccer.
MC’s women’s soccer season kicks off with seven new players and a new assistant coach Kelly Conheeney.
The Jaspers have a .500 record with two wins and two losses and one tie. They are currently ranked eighth out of eleven teams on the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) standings.
“Going in at the beginning of the season, having the full summer off from competitive games, it was kind of like being shot out of a cannon,” sophomore forward Julia Nicholas said.
Jaspers lost their first game to Wagner. However after a very physical second game against St. Francis Brooklyn with two fouls called, Nicholas scored the winning goal with three minutes left in the first half.
“I think now that we have our feet under us, we are playing composed,” Nicholas said. “We know our style of play and have better chemistry. So, I think going into games now, we know what to expect. We know how it looks to play poorly and how it looks to play well.”
Jaspers gained six field players, a goalkeeper, and an assistant coach who played collegiately for Virginia Tech and professionally in the United States National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
“The new class has fit right in, providing positive contributions,” head coach Brendan Lawler said. “Kelly, as the new assistant coach, provides great insight and perspective, to both the players and myself. We are lucky to have them all.”
Conheeney credits Lawler’s recruiting abilities for the team’s success. She also credits the Lasallian values of Manhattan College and the students that it attracts.
“The girls are all incredible and get along great with each other,” said Conheeney. “I can tell you something I love about each individual. With 30 personalities thrown into the mix, you never know what you’re going to get, and I’m really impressed with the way they all carry themselves and treat one another.”
Conheeney shares her feelings about being back with college soccer and her expectations for the season.
“I’m very much in my element in many ways being back in the college soccer environment but this time with a different role to play as a coach instead of a player,” Conheeney said. “This is a very exciting challenge for me. I know I will learn a lot in my first season with Brendan leading the way and a great group of girls.”
Conheeney brings knowledge from her professional background and life experiences to benefit the team of girls.
“I have been in their shoes before and I know the grind of playing college soccer while balancing classes/life,” Conheeney said. “It’s a full time job and not for everyone, but the girls in our program are up for it. Having this perspective and other worldly experiences around the game, allows me to set my expectations high for them but within reach. I hope to give them the confidence to hold themselves to the highest standard possible on and off the pitch.”
She hopes to bring relatability and perspective to the team.
“It is really good to have a younger woman who has been in our shoes,” Mains said. “She has the insight of what it’s like to be a student-athlete and a woman really helps.”
Conheeney is looking forward to building relationships with the girls and helping each individual capitalize on their strengths they bring to the team.
“Everyone on the roster has something we need that contributes to the whole,” said Conheeney. “If I can help each of them get the most out of their game mentally and physically, I count that as a win.”
Jaspers are in preparation for the 2022 MAAC Women’s Soccer Championship on Oct. 30.
The team’s plan is to learn from putting their all out on the field and staying healthy.
“Every day at practice and games is a new chance to develop and improve,” said Lawler. “We are much better than when we started on day one, we are happy with where we are at. So long as we can stay healthy, we will be in the mix at the end of conference play.”
Their preparation is where Conheeney thinks sets apart the team.
“How you do one thing is how you do everything- in your preparation, your nutrition/hydration, your rehab and recovery, your mental game and ability to balance life,” said Conheeney. “All of the little things should add up to give you the confidence to know you’ve given your best on the day. Doing the little things right and holding ourselves to the highest standard will be a huge key to our success as a team and program.”
Jaspers hope to keep a steady mindset and take every opportunity at their games this season.
“Whether we win or lose our mindset is the same: what did we do well, what do we need to improve on, and how do we continue to maximize our strengths and limit our weaknesses,” said Lawler. “Each game is a new chance to be better no matter what has happened in the past.”