Whenever goals are accomplished, new challenges arise.
For the past few seasons, the Mount St. Mary’s soccer team has wanted to play with the big dogs, now they have the chance.
The Thunder had an impressive 12-5-2 record, winning the Monsignor Martin B Division in 2016 meaning this year they move up to the A division.
The move means they will face bigger schools like Nardin, Sacred Heart and Nichols more often.
Co-head coach Marissa Dauria thinks her team is up for the challenge.
“You can’t take a second off against these A schools,” Dauria said. “The players are excited because that was a goal of ours. Now that it’s actually happening I think they’re a little bit nervous. But if you’re not nervous about something that means you’re not taking it seriously.”
Goalkeeper Megan Preisch knows the competition will be a lot tougher for the Mount, but believes that if they put their minds to it they will be able to compete.
“We’ll definitely be challenged more than last year so we’ll have to step up our game,” Preisch said. “It’s about our mental game and our ability to step up.”
The 2016 campaign ended with a 1-0 loss to Nardin in the MMAA semifinals. Nardin ended up going all the way to the State Catholic title game.
“We were very pleased with the skill level and effort that we played with in that (the Nardin) game,” Dauria said. “We’re trying to carry that over.”
Coming back for the Thunder are seniors Preisch, Ruth Riggie and Leah Giles.
They will be counted on to be leaders according to Dauria.
“Ruth was a big goal scorer for us last year and Leah made some plays for us too,” Dauria said. “Now they need to build on their leadership skills to fill the gaps of the graduated seniors. The younger players will be looking up to them.”
Preisch was huge in net for the Mount as a junior last year. She had seven shutouts in 2016.
Dauria and the Thunder will be counting on her big time in 2017.
“She was lights out last year,” Dauria said. “We’re going to need her to be rock solid for us, especially in the A division.”
The Thunder are also looking for a big impact from junior Megan Persico who scored some goals as a sophomore.
The Mount graduated a strong senior class that included leaders Paige Freer and McKenna O’Rourke.
That leaves a lot of spots open for current players to take according to Dauria.
“The seniors we lost last year had been key players and many of them had been a part of the program for four years,” Dauria said. “We’re looking to see who will progress and step into new roles.”
The three tenants of the program are Commitment, Dedication and Respect. Players participate in community service projects throughout the season.
For Dauria it’s about making sure the players become strong young women long after the sport ends.
“The three tenants are important on the soccer field but also beyond,” Dauria said. “It’s about building strong soccer players, but also a good person.”