Seton Hall women’s soccer ready to take on Butler
Amanda Boyer/Photography Editor
The Seton Hall women’s soccer team will look to start fast and put their 2-0 conference opener loss at Providence on Thursday behind them as the Pirates visit Butler on Sunday for a 1 p.m. match.
“Butler is going to present a great challenge for us because of the way they possess the ball,” first-year head coach Rick Stainton said. “We are focusing on ourselves. We’re slow in starts of games. We’re trying to emphasize starting with impact. If we do that, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”
On Thursday, Catherine Zimmerman and Courtney Maguire exploded for two early goals for Providence in the opening five minutes. The Pirates came in having allowed only one score in their last four matches.
The Bulldogs will bring a test for the visiting Pirates, as Butler had won five in a row before a 1-0 loss to Villanova on Thursday. That was the Bulldogs’ (6-5-0) first home loss as well.
Both SHU and Butler hold two of the best defensive stat lines in the conference. The Pirates’ have given up just 0.80 goals per game, which is the best mark in the league. The Bulldogs aren’t far behind, standing in third and allowing just one per game.
Elise Kotsakis, who has scored seven goals in 11 games, is fourth in the Big East in scoring. She is accompanied in the attack by Sophia Maccagnone, who is third in the conference with 3.91 shots per game and second with six assists in 11 contests.
As for The Hall, the offense has had six different scorers in a versatile attack. Leading the Pirates in opportunities has been junior Amanda Gulli, who is one of two players with three points on the season. Gulli has racked up three of the team’s four assists this season. Outside of her, the activity offensively has lacked in terms of creating chances.
“We have to have confidence,” Stainton said. “We have to have the ability to take players on and take risks. If we continue to play back, it allows defenses to get behind us, which leads to goals. We have to identify when we have numbers and go at teams.”
While the Pirates’ offense has been unable to get revved up, sophomore goalkeeper Illissa Blackshear enters Sunday with three shutouts in 719 minutes of action this season.
The 3-5-2 Pirates aren’t looking down, though, after a 2-0 defeat. Stainton has his eyes on the future.
“What happened in the past can’t necessarily change,” Stainton said. “We can only absorb that and get better. That’s what’s great about history. We have to learn and make those efforts to improve. I’m fully confident in this group. It’s about getting things right from the start.”
John Fanta can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @John_Fanta.