Heading into her third season at the helm of the Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) women’s soccer program, coach Sue Kolb has turned a corner. She enters this campaign with the biggest roster she has had, but more importantly, half of the squad has experience in her system. Kolb thinks that alone will be a key in elevating her Lady Royals from the lower end of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference standings.
“I’ve learned that when making a change, it sometimes gets harder before it gets better,” explained Kolb. “I feel as though changing the culture and direction of the program over three seasons was necessary. Returning a strong group of sophomores, three key juniors, and one senior will be significant in terms of success for this upcoming year. The women know my coaching style, the style I want to play on the field, and my on the field/off the field expectations. This will be the first season where I feel I will be able to ‘coach’ rather than introduce.”
In an injury-riddled 2012, EMU entered with only one healthy player who had a full season of experience in Kolb’s system. The Lady Royals started 3-2 but finished 3-13-1 as just seven women played in all 17 games.
This year Kolb has ten returners bolstered by ten talented newcomers. She said that combination provides an energetic dynamic to the team.
“Leadership is our theme this year,” she said. “Many of the ladies possess great qualities to be strong leaders amongst our team. Our ten returners are the soul of our program, and I see them being great leaders by expanding their own expectations on to the freshmen which ultimately impact our team in great ways.”
The Eastern Mennonite women return all but one of their goals scored from last fall, and Kolb is intrigued to see her returners have another year of growth, combined with added depth from the freshmen.
“While we are returning most of our offense,” she said, “last year we did not have much depth in our offense. I am excited about the players returning, but I am anxious to see what some of our freshmen will be able to do for us in the attack. Adding different strengths to our team will give us more flexibility to what we will be able to do. I am counting on some of our freshmen to step up in the central midfielder role which would allow us play faster and more possession oriented.”
Junior Nora Osei (Springfield, Va./West Springfield) (9g) and sophomore Elisa Ott (Lancaster, Pa./Penn Manor) (4g) will be key cogs by the offensive net, while sophomore Asia Malcolm (Richmond, Va./John Randolph Tucker) and senior Erica Detweiler (Hickory, N.C./Fred T. Foard) will anchor the defensive line. Sophomore midfielder Morgan Hill (Martinsville, Va./Carlisle) returns as a stellar distributor after handing out six assists last fall.
Kolb expects Kendall Moyer (Fincastle, Va./James River) and Cayla Garner (Clear Spring, Md./Clear Spring) to lead the freshmen class.
“While I am expecting all of our freshmen to get playing time this year,” explained Kolb, “I am looking forward to seeing high performances from Kendall either in midfield or forward roles and Cayla in center midfield or defense.”
In anticipation of the new season starting at Marymount on Aug. 30, Kolb summed up her thoughts with one word.
“Ready,” she said. “I am ready to move past last year and move into this year. This year will be a different team with new expectations and abilities. I am optimistic as I have noticed the attitude of the returners and the energy from the freshmen. This change of perspective will be our number one strength going into the season. The second strength we have is increasing our talent overall and providing flexibility within the team to try players at different positions to see what will work to our talent and strength.”
The Lady Royals also get the honor of playing the first home game in front of EMU’s new 1,000-seat bleachers when they host Ferrum on Sept. 7.
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