The women?s soccer team is very young, with 10 freshmen and six sophomores on the 24-women roster. However, senior captains Loren Cerami, Jen Seferiadis and Christine Sipala provide invaluable veteran leadership and make sure that the team is just that ? a team.
?We?re doing combinations and patterns of play that we?ve never done,? said Sipala, who has started at striker on and off since her freshman year. ?It?s the beginning of the season and it?s really exciting to be at this high level. That?s all about what we?re doing as a team and how we?re working together.?
The seniors also have confidence in their younger teammates.
?Everyone on our team is a good player,? said Cerami, who is a starting midfielder for the fourth season. ?So when you go out there you know that this person?s going to get to the ball, and you will make a pass that you might not normally make.?
The youth of the team means that the players have not had much opportunity to play together, but a trip to Europe in August gave the team two extra weeks to come together.
?You can definitely see how, each game, one more thing clicks,? Sipala said.
The latest thing to click seems to be their scoring touch. After scoring one goal on 45 shots in two losses to start the season, the Yellowjackets scored 10 goals for three wins.
?We were doing so many great things in the first two games, we just didn?t put it together at the last second,? Sipala said. ?As a team we just weren?t clicking at the end. I think we?ve broken out of that already, so we?re not worried.?
Besides setting examples of what is expected of younger players, the captains also have to provide some guidance. Freshmen ask them about meal plans, classes, study locations and other things most students would ask their RA.
?I think a lot of them, since they spend so much time at soccer, sometimes miss their hall meetings and various informational sessions,? Cerami said.
The captains don?t want to impose themselves on their freshman teammates, but they established immediately that they are available for help.
?The three of us, to a certain extent, feel like we?re mothers,? said Seferiadis, in her fourth year as starting stopper. ?We?re always looking out for everybody.?
They remember what it is like to be freshmen, and they try to emulate the people who made it easier for them.
?We had some great seniors when we were freshmen,? Sipala said. ?They were definitely my models. I?m not exactly like them, but I try to be.?
?We try to do the things that they did so well,? Cerami agreed. ?They made our freshman year so much easier.?
Two first-year starters who have benefited from senior leadership are sophomore goalie Sarah Malecki and freshman sweeper Sarah Tarka.
Malecki has the tough task of taking over for four-year starter Kate Donhauser. Donhauser missed only 60 minutes in goal during a career in which she compiled 39 shutouts.
?Maybe initially, she was a little bit nervous because she didn?t play a single game last year,? Seferiadis said. ?I think she learned a lot from [Donhauser]. I think they pushed each other last year and [Malecki] really has been solid in the back.?
Tarka is the only freshman starting on the team and she is the last line of defense.
?She?s more composed than most of us out there,? Cerami said. ?I think watching, you would never know she?s a freshman.?
That kind of support from her teammates has helped Tarka get over her initial nerves.
?She?s not afraid to be vocal,? Seferiadis said. ?I play right in front of her and I?m a senior and she still yells at me to get my ass back.?
As well as support, the seniors offer their friendship to all of their teammates.
?We all get along amazingly,? Seferiadis said. ?We have so much fun with each other, playing with each other.
?Off the field, they?re easily my best friends at the school,? Seferiadis continued.
The team chemistry created by such strong friendship among teammates cannot be underestimated.
?You could have a mediocre group of players and you could do a lot of great things if you guys get along and work together,? Cerami said. ?To be able to have a team of great players and great friends makes it all that much better.?
Jacobs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.