Rick Stainton’s tenure as head coach of the Seton Hall women’s soccer team has not seen many goals.
For the most part, the Pirates have been a solid defensive team during his reign – thanks to players like Cathy Chukuka and goalie Illissa Blackshear – but scoring, however, has been a problem for the coach and his players.
Last year, the Pirates finished with a disappointing 3-10-5 record and scored just eight goals in 18 games.
They only scored once in nine conference contests. The scoring has not been much better this sea- son, as the Pirates have managed just six goals in their first nine games. The team started out the year with a 1-6-2 record.
According to Stainton, the absence of consistent production is not for a lack of trying.
“It’s not because of a lack of op- portunity,” Stainton said after the team was shutout by Cornell on Thursday. “We do get into that at- tacking third. I think we’ve proven it through a lot of our possessions. But for some reason, it seems like when we get to that point, we don’t know what to do.”
“I’ll take some accountability for that,” he went on, “because we have been trying to emphasize more of the defensive end, to win the ball and get it up in higher positions so that we can create an attack.”
The emphasis on the defensive end has showed, with the Pirates allowing just one goal over the last 391 minutes. That included shut- ting out the Albany Great Danes for 101 minutes in a double over- time victory on Sunday. Seton Hall won 1-0 thanks to Amanda Gulli’s goal bicycle-kick-style goal. In total, the team fired off 10 shots on goal in the victory.
That goal, the sixth of the season for the Pirates, was the fifth that they have scored in the second half or later. Despite coming out slug- gish in the first half at times, Seton Hall usually pressures its opponent in the last 45 minutes.
“The reason why the goals come in the second half more so is because we’re usually chasing the game, and that’s when we take chances and make sacrifices,” Stainton said. “And what we’ve been trying to do is really put emphasis on that same effort, starting from the beginning. We need to sustain that high level of effort for 90 minutes and we will be a successful team.”
One thing that Stainton references is the depth that the Pirates have throughout the lineup. Seton Hall boasts three capable goalies and a wealth of midfielders – but- lacks a killer instinct on offense.
“To be honest, some of our attacking presence are converted midfielders and defenders,” Stain- ton said. “Some of these teams we face have pure strikers, and what I mean by that is they have a knack for the goal. They’ll do anything, like a toe-poke or a diving header, and we don’t have those personali- ties right now.”
As the season goes on, Stainton said he will try new formations and new lineups to spark the offense and the forwards. But according to Stainton, there is just one thing left to do.
“We’re working very hard and we’re creating opportunities, but now it’s the final element,” he said. “It’s putting it away in the back of the goal.”
Bobby Bevilacqua can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. edu or on Twitter @rpb725.