Freshman Chipping In

Sebastian Lena

Coming off a sub .500 season, not too many teams would come into the next year with their heads held high. That’s not the case with the UMass Boston women’s soccer team, who finished 2007 5-12-1.

So what’s so different about the Lady Beacons this year?

“This is a very determined team with a lot of heart,” Coach Amy

Zombeck says. “If we stay healthy, this can be a very dangerous team.”

Senior Captain Kristi Morales brought up team chemistry.

“Last season we had a lot of talent,” she says, “but we never found the chemistry to bring it all together as a team. This year we have even more talent and we have already formed great bonds.”

With the incoming new talent, of course there is also the departure of the senior players.

“Senior losses are always tough,” Coach Zombeck says, “but we have a talented group of new players who came here wanting to make an impression and difference on the program.”

Included in that group are 12 returning starters and 12 freshmen and Morales notes that “all 12 new girls bring something new to the team.

“They are ready to work hard to show what type of team we are thisyear.”

Coach Zombeck shares the same belief of how strong the new crop of players are. When asked to name who some of the top contributors to her team this year, three of the seven players she named were freshmen.

Of course, with that many young players on a team, they need to have a source of guidance. That’s where captains Kristi Morales, Phylicia McDonald, and Courtney Haroules step in.

“As a captain, I definitely have to be a leader and step up,” says Morales. “We have to show the new girls what type of team we want to be this year.”

A sense of urgency is there for the captains, who are all in their senior year.

“Courtney, Phylicia, and I are all seniors,” Morales says. “We want towin this year more than anything. We know we have great potential to do it and we just have to keep all the girl’s enthusiasm levels up and make sure everyone is focused and ready to work.”

The Lady Beacon’s potential is there, but opponents have yet to take themseriously.

“Every game is an important game when you are trying to earn respect,” says Coach Zombeck.

Morales couldn’t agree more.

“Every game is important to us,” she says. “We need to work at the same level against every team, good or bad. We’ve always been theunderdogs. We can only go up from here.”

Zombeck sees the underdog role in the same light.

“We are in a great position right now,” she says. “There’s only one way for us to go, and that’s up. We should surprise a lot of people this year.”

Speaking of underdogs, the US Women’s soccer team was considered exactly that at the Beiijing Olympics. They returned to the US donning gold medals.

“Like I said before, we have always been the underdogs,” Morales says. “So to see team USA do it, it just proves anything is possible.”