The Geneseo women’s soccer team opened their season on Friday Sept. 1 with a prominent level of competitiveness. The women came out of the tournament with two victories, immediately demonstrating their hard work and determination to have a successful season.
“We really wanted to establish ourselves as a force to be reckoned with, which I think we did a great job of doing,” senior midfielder Leah Greene said in a phone interview.
The team beat St. Lawrence University 2-1 in Canton, N.Y., on Friday Sept. 1 in the first of two back-to-back away games to start the season, as part of the North Country Classic.
After St. Lawrence netted a goal in the 18th minute, Geneseo was down 1-0 at half, but an unassisted goal by senior forward Audrey Reid in the 65th minute tied the game. Sophomore forward Domenica Piccoli scored the tiebreaking goal off an assist from junior midfielder Ashley Byrne at the 67:10 mark.
The Knights held onto that lead for the rest of the game. Junior goaltender Emily Janiszewski had 10 saves and ultimately finished with 11 for the weekend.
In the second game of the North Country Classic, the team saw a 3-0 shutout win against Clarkson University. Geneseo held their opponents’ offense to just one shot on goal, saved by Janiszewski.
Although the Knights got off to a slow start against St. Lawrence on Friday Sept. 1, the team came back hard in the second half, which resulted in their victory. The women proceeded to carry that intensity over to the 3-0 shutout against Clarkson.
“One of our best attributes as a team is how strong our defense is,” Greene said. “The best way to capitalize on [the defense] is to put goals in the back of the net, which we did.”
Freshman midfielder Ellie Gregory scored her first goal as a Knight in the 20th minute against Clarkson. Reid added a goal off an assist from junior right back Rachel Walsh; Reid continued to fill her stat sheet with an assist on a Byrne goal in the 67th minute.
Greene, Piccoli, Reid and Walsh were all named to the North Country Classic All-Tournament Team.
In addition to the significance of on-field play, Greene emphasized the important influence of the team’s bonding. This year’s team has nine freshmen—a situation that could cause starting off the new season to be difficult, though this does not seem to be the case with these Knights.
“We definitely mesh well with each other,” Greene said. “We have a lot of new players and fresh faces with a lot of heart and talent.”
The Knights have made the SUNYAC Championship match three out of the last four seasons, most recently losing to Buffalo State 1-0 in the 2016 title game. Moving into the 2017 season, this is a streak they would like to not only keep up—the Knights aspire to win the SUNYAC Championship for 2017 as well.
Head coach Nate Wiley has preached intensity on the field as the key to return to the championship game, according to Greene.
Wiley’s coaching has helped the team’s success in his 11 seasons at Geneseo. His defense allowed only six goals during the entirety of the 2016 season. Now entering his 12th year, intensity will remain a key characteristic of the team’s play.
This marks the fourth straight year in which Wiley’s team has started the season unbeaten in the first two games. Seeing that a policy of intensity has been successful for the Knights in recent years and hearing that the team’s intensity continues strongly, great success is expected from this season.