A strong core of returning players and freshmen additions will try to lead University of Richmond’s women’s soccer team to a winning season.
The Spiders start the year poised to rebound from last season, in which they finished with a record of 6-12-2. They went 3-6-1 in conference play, placing them at tenth in the Atlantic 10.
“Last season was definitely disappointing,” junior captain Alexis Pringle said. “The team had a lot of potential to do really well and we didn’t live up to that.”
Injuries and underperformance may have marred last season, but coach Peter Albright says that the sense of disappointment will act as a catalyst for future success.
“Last year was a tough season,” Albright said. “We had a lot of setbacks but that sense of disappointment is a motivator. The players want and expect more than that… We are at a better and healthier place than we were last fall.”
Last year the team had a fairly strong offensive season, finishing sixth in the league in shots and seventh in assists per game. That should continue into this season, Albright said.
“Our biggest strength is our passes and our attack,” he said. “We can break lines and attack strongly at different speeds. We can attack slowly or in transition.”
Led by returning forwards Lexi Prillaman and Meaghan Carrigan, Albright says the team can build off of last season’s offensive success with some new additions, especially freshman Brooke Beam.
“She is a talented, creative center midfielder,” Albright said. “When people have come to see us play, she is the one they talk about. She makes incisive passes that break lines and create scoring chances.”
The Spiders also have a strong new defensive core to complement their offense. Pringle leads the team on defense, and Albright says he believes she “is the best defender in the A10 and one of the best defenders that we’ve had at Richmond in a long time.”
The team also welcomed freshman back Lindsay Belli and defensive midfielder Alyssa Walker. Albright said that these freshmen additions were already “making a real difference in the way we play.”
He says that together with Pringle, the freshmen will form a defensive triangle that looks to become one of the team’s biggest advantages this season.
The team has already earned a 2-1 record, with wins against Longwood and rival James Madison. Prillaman scored all four of Richmond’s goals in the win over JMU.
Albright stressed the importance of these early season games, as he wants build upon the team’s chemistry and prepare for conference games later in the season.
“Our goal right now is to establish a playing style for ourselves that will be effective in conference play,” Albright said. “Through these first nine games, while it’s not like we are experimenting, we are trying to put together the right group of players and system of play that will be effective.”
The Spiders will play their next game in a tournament at VCU. They will face Holy Cross at 5 p.m. on Friday and Sacred Heart at 12 p.m. on Sunday.
Many voices on the team have said they thought more fans would come to games if the success continued to build.
“We’re the best kept secret on campus,” Albright said. He went on to say that fans that come out to games will be proud of the Spiders and excited to watch them again.
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