As Halloween nears, it establishes the end of not only October, but also the end of the women’s soccer season in South Orange. With the 2019 campaign all but over, the program will be graduating three seniors – Siobhan McGovern, Marisa Aniolowski, and Jackie Robinson.
The atmosphere around the upcoming match on Oct. 31 is makes the seniors departure more thought of due to no contests in the future.
“It is always a big build up [to senior night],” head coach Ciara Crinion said. “It is always a different feel when you know when the last game of the season is as opposed to playing to something. That only builds the occasion a little more because it is the end.”
Despite only one year under her belt Crinion understood the position the seniors were in when leading the team.
“Seniors are always in a natural leadership position because they are seniors, that is just how it happens,” Crinion said. “We talked to them about leading by example, doing the right thing. Because they are a little bit older, they are like the heartbeat of the team. So, the biggest thing for us to get from them was to lead the team by example. And we would try to talk to them a lot about how we want them to be an example and how to lead.
“I think naturally being the oldest group within the team and being here the longest, the team naturally follows people in that position. So how much we could make them aware of that was the biggest thing. Are they aware of their leadership, are they aware of how they act, how they train, how they talk, because being that senior class everyone looks up to them and that was the responsibility on them.”
Although there was not a significant relationship between the coach and the seniors due to just one year of knowing each other, Crinion was content with their performances on and off the field.
“We came in this year, so we know [the seniors] as well as we know the rest of the classes. So, it is a little bit different,” Crinion said. “Usually when you have your seniors for four years you can say so much about them in their fourth year. But for us it is a little different because we know them the same as we know everyone else. Like everyone else, they wanted change and they wanted to work. All year that investment was there.”
The seniors also understood the pyramid of power within a program, easing the transition of communication and tactics from the coaches towards the younger players.
“Anything we do, we say it starts from the top down, so, understanding that, they could help as much as they could, and we wanted them to have that responsibility,” Crinion said.
Finally, Crinion knew the coaches had the power on the pitch, while the seniors had the power of the locker room.
“Their work is done in the locker room when we are not around,” she said. “And that was what we entrusted in them. But I feel their relationship with the team was the strongest this year and that is something we wanted to build and have within the team.”
Robert Fallo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @rob_fallo.