By: Canio Marasco
Although the beginning of the season has been riddled with injuries, the Griffs understand that a successful campaign will require more than wins, it will take great perseverance.
The Griffs season has begun tumultuously. They were able to begin with a respectable 2-3-2 record. However, this average start was derailed by a tough four game losing streak. The Griffs record now stands at 3-7-2, placing them in seventh place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Coach Todd Clark said that a large problem that the Griffs are still trying to rebound from are the injuries the team has incurred. He stated, “In soccer you want to play the first 11. But as people get tired or are injured, you have to use substitutes.” Coach Clark said that he isn’t trying to disparage any of his substitutes, but rather that an inconsistent lineup leads to a lack of quality and continuity of play throughout the year.
These injuries have caused many girls, who might not have played much this year, to be placed prematurely into prominent roles. Coach Clark expounded upon the adversity the injuries have caused, stating, “We have just not seen the concerted, concentrated effort, very many times this year. I think as we set our goals, if one looks at the first four games, each one of those was a sign that we were heading in a positive direction…Unfortunately as we’ve had injuries, we just have not been able to maintain that concerted effort.” Coach Clark was not critical of one particular player, but rather the effort of the team as a whole to play through adversity.
Todd Clark was named the head coach of the Griffs in December of 2014. When he first came to the team he said the area that needed the most improvement was the quality of players in the program. With greater quality, the depth of the squad along with the overall talent, would increase. Greater depth is something the squad could certainly use, as the starting eleven has been decimated by injuries this season.
Certainly a bright spot this season has been Sophomore Taylor Kugler. After only registering one point her freshman season, Kugler has shown much improved this year. She has already contributed 11 points, only half way through the season. Kugler is someone that Coach Clark is excited about as a future focal point on the team. However, he did caution that with the numerous injuries to his starting lineup, her production has precipitously dipped as the strength of the supporting players around her has decreased.
The Griffs last game was against conference rival, Marist. The Griffs won 2-1, in double overtime. The Griffs first goal was scored by Samantha Gagliano off of a thrown-in. However, they conceded an own goal in the second half, forcing overtime. The game winning goal was scored by Emily Kuta, deep into second overtime. Kailee DeFranks picked up the win in goal, making 11 saves on the day.
The next game for the Griffs is on October 3, against another conference rival, Fairfield. When asked about the game, Coach Clark stated, “To have seven players, I don’t care who they are, I don’t care if it’s the best player on the team…seven players not available on a roster of twenty-two is significant. So, when I look at, ‘Am I going to win or am I going to lose?’ Yeah, I’m going to try to win every game. So we’re going to do everything in our power to win the Fairfield game.” Fairfield is currently sitting below the Griffs in the MAAC, with a 3-6-2 record.
Looking to the future, Coach Clark said, “The reality of it is, we can’t look at the situation, with all the injuries, and say ‘boo-hoo,’ you know, ‘you lost seven kids.’ I actually look at it as a tremendous opportunity. In spite of losing this player or that player…all great stories are comprised of someone beating insurmountable obstacles.” Coach Clark isn’t exactly upset that the team has dealt with so many injuries, but rather stated, “For me, these injuries give us the potential to do things special from now until the foreseeable future, which in a way, is pretty cool.”
However, despite the adversity, Coach Clark understood the importance of the remaining season and future. He stated, “Several weeks ago, within the coaching staff, we said that we we’re going to try to win every game, despite the obstacles, but at the same time, as one is coaching today, they are also coaching for tomorrow, and as one is coaching for tomorrow, one is also coaching for next week, and next week is for next month and next month is for next year. And so, very consciously we have said the weak way to go would be to look at the problems…but if we don’t expect a very high level, why would we expect a high level of commitment in the future.”
Looking to the future, Coach Clark understands that the example he sets today, is the doctrine that could carry the team in the future. He ended by saying, “We could be a team that perseveres, or we could be part of the zillions and zillions of people who understand they have a good excuse to give-up. We are going to go for it every night.”