Seton Hall women’s soccer team has struggled early this season, going 0-4-2 in out-of-conference play. The root of the team’s problem is as simple as the purpose of the game: score. With only three goals on 49 shots, the Pirates are shooting a six percent success rate, while their opponent are just over 18 percent.
The opportunities have been there in many games. In the team’s latest 1-0 loss to Marist at Owen T. Carroll Field, the Pirates’ 19 shots were more than half of the shots they had taken in the previous four games. They had many that easily could have made it in the net, with one shot riccocheing off the post, another forcing a magnificent save and another missed opportunity when the ball dribbled in front of the net without a Pirate getting to it. Seton Hall fell in a very winnable game.
“We need finishers, we need someone who can step in, put whatever it takes on the ball and put it in the back of the net,” head coach Rick Stainton said after the loss to Marist.
The offensive struggles are even more frustrating for the Pirates because of the success the team has had on defense. The Pirates have limited four of their opponents to three or fewer shots on goal and only one of their opponents have been able to score more than one goal. However, their record continues to show their inability to finish, despite a strong defensive foundation.
Offensively, the Pirates have had a tough time finding a way to effectively move the ball on offense. Too often they have settled for long passes up-field instead of controlling the possession. Their aggression is what has them shooting 19 shots in a game. However it also hurts them when they want to get the most quality shots and tire the defense out.
Marissa Aniolowski and Siobhan McGovern are two players that will look to have more of an impact going into conference play. As a freshman, Aniolowski played in every match and totaled four points, earning her a Big East All-Freshman Team selection entering this season. McGovern, in her second season, is coming off a year where she had two game-winning goals and finished second on the team in total shots and shots on goal.
According to Aniolowski, the team may be one step away.
“We need more dangerous opportunities. Against Marist we had 19 shots, but only seven on goal,” Aniolowski said. “We’re missing the last piece… it’s a process.”
Aniolowski went on to talk about how the team has still improved from last season and if the players keep their heads up and keep fighting in each game, they can collectively steer the season in the right direction.
With players like Aniolowski growing in the system, the way for the Pirates to build is with young leadership. It starts with the younger players taking on their new role and playing a more composed and fluent offense. By doing so and being more clinical in front of the goal, Seton Hall can still turn its season around.
Keith Egan can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Keith_egan10.