The Lions women’s soccer team has expectations to live up to and in the first weekend of the season, it didn’t disappoint.
Five days after being chosen as the preseason favorite in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC), the College opened its season at the Jako Blue Jay Classic with two shutout-wins this weekend.
“Obviously it’s a great way to start for a completely overhauled team,” head coach Joe Russo said.
It was just one weekend and two games, but everything went as planned for the Lions, who lost 13 players from last year’s squad to graduation.
Junior forward Brittny Boyd picked up right where she left off in her All-American campaign last season, tallying three goals on the weekend and garnering the tournament’s MVP honors.
“I give credit to the kids around her,” Russo said. “They worked hard to get her in position to get the goals.”
Senior goalie Alissa Kacar cruised to two easy shutouts denying the mere five shots she faced over both games. She now has 20 career shutouts.
Sophomore forward Dana DiBruno chalked up a goal and three assists over both games, which could be a promising sign for a young Lions squad in need of a game-changing playmaker to emerge aside Boyd.
“(DiBruno) is kind of the engine for us,” Russo said. “At times, she asserted herself real well.”
Boyd and DiBruno demonstrated their potential to be the Lions’ leading duo, as DiBruno assisted Boyd for goals twice during the Lions’ 4-0 victory over Eastern Connecticut State University on Saturday. DiBruno managed eight shots in the game, while Boyd took six.
Freshman midfielder Colleen Weber and junior forward Lauren Grochala each tacked on a goal as part of the Lions’ 27-shot attack against Eastern Connecticut.
The Lions got more leadership from Boyd and DiBruno to top Salisbury University 3-0 on Sunday.
DiBruno scored on an assist from sophomore midfielder Kristen Cubicciotti in the first half, and Boyd added her third goal of the weekend in the second half on an assist from Weber.
Sophomore midfielder Beth Avery added a goal two minutes later to give the Lions’ their 3-0 lead.
The College demonstrated a tremendous knack to keep the ball in its control, out-shooting their opponents 43-6 on the weekend. The Lions have outscored their opponents 7-0 on the young season.
Such precision on the field will go a long way in proving the Lions’ worth as the NJAC’s preseason darlings. Yet, Russo knows preseason rankings on paper don’t necessarily translate into wins.
“I was shocked,” Russo said about the ranking. “We graduated 13 players. It’s a credit to what we’ve accomplished in the past. It doesn’t mean a whole lot, though.”
The Lions will travel to Cary, N.C. next weekend to play two games in the Esprit Division III Tournament. Game times are to be decided.