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Toughness Key for Women's Soccer

Pat Bradley’14  Staff Writer

“Practice hard and you’ll reap the benefits.” This simple quote rings prominent in the ears of all the women’s soccer players as the underlying theme of their season. For their time though, practicing hard doesn’t just mean sweating and running.

Instead, the team has a new tactic for success: mental toughness. “As girls, we’re all head cases”, says junior forward and leading scorer Danielle Dion. While there’s a solid foundation to argue that those extra sprints and repetitions make the difference on game day, the Warriors already have those skills down fairly well.

Instead, the ladies are learning from their past experiences, building on that knowledge, and applying everything to their on-field success. Some of that experience has come from mistakes – painful then, yet beneficial now.

“Our coaches can’t stress it enough: ‘Do your job, and take responsibility’”, says senior captain Jenn Pino. “Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and forget what our individual jobs are on and off the field. We also stress taking responsibility because we rely so much on each other and hold each other accountable.”

One of those coaches stressing accountability is new assistant coach Jess Peacock, who just last year was a senior captain herself. “‘Anything can happen’ is what she always preaches,” adds Dion, “just understanding your role and executing it. She pushes you. She’s been a big piece to the season, but we’ve acted on it.”

The strategy is working, as the team has come out blazing to a 6-2 overall start (4-1 conference, 3-0 home). Across the board, the team largely contributes its success to team chemistry. Without the communication and team camaraderie they’ve built, victories would be hard to come by. “It’s how we win”, says Pino, “In my four seasons here, this team is the closest I’ve seen it. We do not rely on individuals; we work together in order to accomplish our mission.”

That mission is certainly in sight as far as the students are concerned. One student commented, “There’s definitely a buzz surrounding the team this year, especially after all they accomplished last season.” Fan support has been a welcome boost thus far, as the team is seeing record-numbers for student attendance at home games.

With all systems go, Martone-Mejail Field is quickly becoming the place to be during home events. “We will give you something to remember”, said Dion, “We have a name to fight for and a win to fight for and we’re just as proud as any other team on campus.”

The Women’s Warrior Soccer team next takes the field at home Wednesday, Oct. 3 against St. Anselm (1-5-1, overall) at 7 p.m. and again Saturday, Oct. 6 vs. American International (4-2-1, overall) at 4. The ladies will celebrate Senior Day on Oct. 20 vs. Adelphi University. Be sure to check out http://www.merrimackathletics.com/ticketing/ultimate/events for when you can gain Ultimate Warrior Points at the women’s soccer games.

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