Women’s Soccer: New Coach + Bright Future

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Photo: NYIT Athletics

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Photo: NYIT Athletics

Photo: NYIT Athletics

“You can’t win anything with kids,” was once said by Alan Hansen, a former professional soccer player for Liverpool and Scotland turned pundit. It was following Manchester United’s defeat at Aston Villa in the beginning of the 1995-96 premiership season. Boy, was he WRONG! That squad flourished: David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville, and Ryan Giggs, all became international footballers winning almost every cup possible! Yet, Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United at the time, transformed that team into one of the most successful teams in European soccer. Most famously winning the Premiership, F.A Cup and Champions League in the 1998-1999. No one could have imagined this following that dreadful day at Villa Park. Coach Caputo, head coach of the women’s soccer team, like Sir Alex Ferguson, has a young, relatively inexperienced squad on his hands. They’ve suffered a disappointing start, but they do have the potential for great success.

The Bears show startling similarities between the treble winning Manchester United squad of 1998-1999 season. Vanessa Cordoba, a freshman goalkeeper hailing from Bogota, Colombia, is reminiscent of Peter Schmeichel, a tall commanding figure between the sticks. Taylor Casey, a freshman full-back from Columbia, Connecticut, marauds down the flanks as Gary Neville did during his prime. Sia Dagrizikos, sophomore centre-mid from Northbrook, Illinois, orchestrates the midfield, spraying the ball in different directions, a trademark characteristic of Paul Scholes. Fran Glenny, sophomore striker of Brisbane, Australia, is comparable to Andy Cole; a tall, powerful centre-forward, capable of holding the ball up, taking defenders on and scoring from all angles. The experienced head amongst this youth is the captain and centre-half, Malissa Horan, Oceanside, New York. Horan is the quintessential central defender; no nonsense, committed to the tackle and prepared to throw her body in to the defense of the goal. She can only be compared with Jaap Stam, the old head which held the talent youth and the experience together for Manchester United, and she must continue in this vein. At the helm of this group sits Coach Caputo, who must be inspired by Sir Alex Ferguson’s ability to guide talented youth to a team feared by the world. Caputo brings a wealth of experience in to the dressing room; an alumni of the men’s soccer program and former professional player in both Miami and Europe before his career was ended through injury. This has afforded him with immense knowledge of the game which is extremely similar to Sir Alex Ferguson. Both coaches were professional soccer players before turning their hand at coaching, something which extremely beneficial for the success of the squad.

The 2014-2015 campaign is Caputo’s second season as head coach of the Bears, and has started off rather unsuccessfully with loses to both Holy Family and New Haven. “Youth, youth was our biggest problem in the first two games,” said Coach Caputo. “They are a little gun-shy in getting forward and their responsibility, they just have to trust themselves.” This isn’t surprising considering the majority of the starting line-up is comprised of underclassmen. Caputo is well-aware that this will take time, and understands the naïve nature of a mostly young squad. However, he can see the beginnings of what he is looking for. He is confident that the team is nearing where he wants them to be, having recruited the majority of the players personally. “I think we are almost there, and I think the girls are in the right mindset, their characters are impeccable. I think we just need to become more mature on the field. That’s the only thing which I think we’re missing.” This will take time, something which Sir Alex Ferguson was given at Manchester United and, in turn, he gave to his young players. It will not be a quick process, but once these young girls mature and flourish on the field the Bears will be a force to be reckoned with.

Sia Dagrizikos plays as if she is the conductor of an orchestra, directing the movement of the game through her passing ability, changing the tempo and intensity of the game, and is one of the talented underclassmen within Caputo’s arsenal. “We need to improve on the simple things,” Sia stated regarding the disappointing start to the campaign, “it’s the little things like our touch, decision making, and ability to finish which cost us the games.” Once these simple details are fixed the Bears will shine. A key point, which Dagrizikos and Caputo both admit needs work, is a lack of goals. “Once we get her the confidence,” Coach Caputo stated when mentioning the addition of Fran Glenny the Bears, “when this young lady finds the back of the net and plays with the confidence I’ve seen her play with, she will take this program to the next level.” An old cliché in soccer is the only statistic that truly counts is who scores the most goals. Inexplicably true indeed, but something which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Glenny joins the Bears following a year playing for Morton Bay College, Mississippi, who compete in the NAIA. She admits the level of competition is far superior in the North East and NCAA Division II. “The standard of the girls is much better here and it’s taking some time for me to settle into the style of play… I’ve set myself a target of 10 goals this season, and I know once I score one the rest will follow.”

Wednesday, 26th of May, 1999, saw Manchester United’s blossomed youth players cement their place in the history books with a triumphant last minute victory against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. Their path from the defeat at Villa Park, which saw Hansen state, “You’ll never win anything with kids,” to that day was a rocky road. But, they were afforded time, allowed to mature as a squad, and repaid this with trophies. The current NYIT women’s soccer team, given the same time to mature and grow as players, can replicate this success.

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Women’s Soccer: New Coach + Bright Future