The Retriever women’s soccer team has made it clear that they are a much different team than the one they were last year. Even though the team only has four games under its belt, the Retrievers already improved upon their record from 2018 with two more ties and one more win than they had at this point last fall. With a new credo, new energy and new members, the Retrievers are prepared and excited to take on their competitive schedule as they set their sights on their conference games beginning Sept. 22.
Before the team began summer training, head coach Vanessa Mann was working on building the women up and changing their mindsets.
Mann told Retriever Athletics, “We started out in January and started to talk a lot about the ABC’s. For us, we actually class the ABC’s as ‘Always Be Competing’ so we compete in the classroom, we compete on the practice field, [and] we compete in the community.”
While Mann believes competition is important, she does not feel it is what will propel the Retrievers this season. So she turned to the Latin translation of the word “compete,” which she explains as meaning “‘to strive together.’”
“So it’s not me against you, it’s me with you,” Mann said.
The team took Mann’s ideas and ran with them. The Retrievers have returned a more competitive team that can take on the challenges its 2019 competition schedule poses. They have not just been pushing themselves athletically, though. They have also carried their passion into the classroom and their communities. With Mann’s push, the Retrievers produced a higher second semester team GPA and further emphasized their call to serve the various communities in Maryland. Whether it was working with kids around Arbutus through Student-Athlete Advisory Committees (SAAC) or the Shriver Center at UMBC, the team completed over 30 hours of community service last semester.
On top of a new attitude on the part of the returning players, the Retrievers welcomed ten new athletes to their roster. Of these athletes, two in particular have stood out: Freshman goalkeeper Alyssa Minnick, who made a key save against Towson to prevent the Tigers from leading by two, and freshman back Caroline Koutsos, who made one of the goals against Mount St. Mary’s to help the Retrievers achieve their first shutout since 2017. The next 12 games will only give these two freshmen more time to develop and contribute to the team.
With so many changes made by Mann and the team, it is no wonder the Retrievers have improved their record against the St. Francis Red Flash and the New Jersey Technical Institute Highlanders, two games they lost in 2018 and tied this season. Beyond those two games, the rest of this season looks hopeful. The Retrievers face off against the American University Eagles on Wednesday, Oct. 9, giving them an opportunity to counter their loss in 2018. New opponents George Washington University Colonials, Lehigh University Mountain Hawks and Longwood University Lancers give the Retrievers more chances to learn and grow as a team.
While the Retrievers may not be looking at a conference title, they are laying the necessary groundwork needed to propel themselves further than they have since their big win in 2013. With the energy and momentum the team is bringing to all aspects of their lives, there is little doubt that they will excel far beyond the ninth place ranking the America East preseason poll slotted them in.