By: Lucas Rodrigues
The Western Connecticut State University Women’s Soccer Team have hit their stride after grinding out a 2-1 victory over conference rival Keene State on Saturday. The women’s team is now on a six-game winning streak and showing great poise defensively while producing in the offensive third. Within those last six wins, they have outscored their opponents 22-5, an impressive goal differential against any collegiate opposition.
The ruthlessness found in front of goal this year has come from two underclassmen in particular: freshman Midfielder Mya Croze, of Bristol, Conn., and sophomore forward Kaleigh Panek, of Shelton. The pair have combined for 23 goals, scoring 12 and 11 respectively through 13 games. Croze and Panek aren’t just leading WestConn in goals—they’re leading the Little East Conference by a comfortable three-goal margin.
But a successful team needs to be balanced from front to back; the sound defensive work of the Colonials has been key to the team’s early success thus far, as they currently sit in second place in the LEC. The Colonials have only conceded 15 goals so far this season, an impressive occurrence in such a high scoring conference, and the defense is anchored by goalkeeper Karly Martin, who is averaging over five saves a game this season.
The Colonials’ lineup is young this season—out of the 11 players who have started 10 or more games, eight are underclassmen—a testament to head coach Alex Harrison’s recruiting prowess in his fourth season at the helm.
“We do have a very young team this year, but very determined,” said Harrison following his team’s big conference win on Saturday. “The student-athletes are very committed and passionate about competing; in the classroom, practice field and during the games”
The Colonials have won four straight Little East Conference championships, a truly remarkable feat. Returners from several of those championship-winning teams include senior defenders Courtney Ravo and Jasmine Grey, and senior midfielder Bailey McCollum, who is tied for second on the team with two assists.
With top scoring talent and a solid defensive foundation, as well as the tireless work of Harrison and his coaching staff, the Colonials have set out to prove that not much has changed from the last four years, and they’re hopeful for a fifth consecutive conference championship this fall.
Women’s Soccer will play tonight at Worcester State at 7 p.m., and they will return to the Westside Athletic Complex on Saturday, Oct. 12 at noon as they take on the visiting Castleton Spartans, who share the second place spot in the LEC standings with the Colonials, to kick off Homecoming Weekend.