Diligent practice integral to women’s soccer’s success

A huge part of any team’s success is practice. As former National Basketball Association all-star Allen Iverson once said, “We’re talking about practice. We ain’t talking about the game. We’re talking about practice, man.” Luckily for the Knights, the women’s soccer team has a better attitude toward practice than Iverson.

“We all love each other and we love soccer so when we get together to practice it’s always a good time,” senior goalie Allison Stamp said.

This is Stamp’s first year starting for Geneseo after sitting behind Julia Sanger ‘14 for three seasons.

After warming up, the Knights do drills focused on holding possession of the ball and accurately passing to each other. This is something that Geneseo has done very well this season—it’s part of a new system that has led the Knights to their most successful regular season since 1993 when they went 18-2.

Head coach Nate Wiley works directly with his goalies during practice. This tactic has definitely worked this season; Stamp let in just two goals in the entire month of October and lost only two games all season.

The mood at practice is usually lighthearted, especially the day before a game. It’s important for a team to be loose and ready for big games.

“We’re all very energetic,” Stamp said. “We realize how important it is, so we’re playing very game-like [in practice].”

The day before a big game brings different routines for different people. There are some athletes at the highest level that have absurd pregame rituals. Sometimes, people eat the exact same meal the night before for every game. Stamp has a much simpler ritual.

“Before I go to bed, I usually try to picture all the really great things that could happen,” she said. “If I do start to get that little instance of ‘what if I do get scored on,’ then before I go to bed I try to turn that around in my head.”

Her routine certainly worked on Wednesday Nov. 5 against SUNY Plattsburgh in the SUNYAC semifinal game. The Knights won 3-0—allowing just two shots on goal.

Junior forward Kelsey Raschke, sophomore midfielder Emily Green and freshman midfielder/forward Leah Greene scored Geneseo’s goals. Greene has been a star for the Knights this season, leading the team in scoring. As a freshman, that’s even more impressive.

The win over Plattsburgh sets up a SUNYAC championship matchup for Geneseo against rival SUNY Cortland. In the regular season, the Knights tied the Red Dragons 1-1. This could be something on Wiley’s mind—he had his team close practice on Tuesday Nov. 4 by practicing penalty kicks.

History is against the Knights. Geneseo is just 10-20-6 all-time against Cortland, a winning percentage of just .278. The winner of this game earns a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The loser’s season, in all likelihood, is over.

“Postseason is always bittersweet,” Stamp said. “You know that so many good things can come out of it but then it can also end in a second. Coming in as a senior, I don’t want it to be my last game and I think we’re all going to do as much as we can to make sure that it’s not.

The Knights face the Red Dragons on Saturday Nov. 8 at 1 p.m. at Geneseo.