Women’s Soccer optimistic for the new season

Emmanuel Rodriguez, Sports Editor

The 2018 season did not go exactly as planned for the SUNY Buffalo State Women’s soccer team. They finished the season with a 4-12-2 record, including a less than stellar 3-6 record in conference play and failed to qualify for the SUNYAC playoffs for the second straight season. 

“Last season was a rebuilding year and I think we got a lot of experience,” said Bengals head coach Nicholas DeMarsh, who is entering his 18th year as the man in charge. “We lost a lot of games late and controversially last year. There were many match-critical calls that changed our season. We easily could’ve finished fourth in the conference. But with that, there were also numerous games where we just didn’t have it and it was a bad day at the office.” 

DeMarsh will have many players returning this year, including new team captains junior Kyndal Hetzel and senior Emma Boccolucci. 

“(Hetzel) is going to be very influential, she has a new role on the team,” DeMarsh said. “I expect (Boccolucci) to also be very influential on the team, she is playing very well, even though she is entering the season coming off a broken arm from playing soccer this summer. She’s found her form very quickly and I’m excited to see how she’ll perform.” 

But it isn’t only Hetzel and Boccolucci who have been leaders in the dressing room. 

Both Mya Sugg and Melissa Camp are entering their junior years.

“There are several other players who have, just by their own natural ability, emerged as leaders who I probably didn’t expect,” said DeMarsh. “We’ve got Mya Sugg, who’s been dominant this year and has probably been the best player at her position and there’s Melissa Camp, too.” 

Luckily for the Bengals, they only graduate one player, Paige Bly, who made 65 appearances over her career. 

“You don’t (replace a player like Paige Bly),” said DeMarsh. “When you lose that kind of a player, there is no replacement. What you do is refer to that player in terms of a role model and someone who survived multiple injuries and survived a lot of setbacks in her career, you exemplify her as someone who never quits, works hard, always comes prepared, always comes ready to compete.” 

New to the program is junior transfer Erin Valente, who spent the past two seasons with the Cortland Red Dragons.

“I happen to think she’s world-class,” said DeMarsh. “Today, if you ask me who our most informed player is, it’s her. She looks phenomenal. She’s got pace, she’s smart, she can score, she can pick out a pass, she can create, she can beat two, three players at a clip. She has a great engine, vision, she’s a classy player. I really enjoy working with her and she’s been a great surprise.” 

Valente accumulated five goals and an assist in 38 appearances. However, in her freshman season, she made the third-team All-SUNYAC team after starting in every game she appeared in. Last season, she started in just 10 games. 

When it comes to a potential team motto, DeMarsh said that he just lets that develop organically, but there is one thing that he has repeated a few times now. 

“Three or four times now, I’ve mentioned to the team that they were picked 10th in the SUNYAC. We were picked to finish 10th out of 10. I think for us, that is a call to arms. That’s a slap in the face. I look at it as disrespect and tremendous motivation.” 

The expectations for DeMarsh out of his players during the 2019 campaign are simple. 

“100 percent we have enough quality for the playoffs, that’s for sure,” said DeMarsh. “I also want to be much more sporting. We felt like we were hard done last year by the officials on many occasions and I don’t want a victim mentality. I don’t want to accumulate many yellow cards, unless it’s for competing. I will not put up with any cards for dissent, for moaning to the referee about a call they made. If we’re getting a yellow card, it should be for a tough tackle that was slightly late. 

DeMarsh commented that the new turf field is playing very slowly and that a little more time is needed for it to settle and to break it in a bit. 

The Women’s Soccer team will be the first to break in the new turf at Coyer Field. They are scheduled to host the Trine Thunder at 4 p.m. on Friday in the opening game of the 2019 Buffalo State Bengals Classic. The Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets and Westminister Titans are also playing the tournament. 

“New field, new team, new dream. We’re up for it,” said DeMarsh. “I want to compete in every game. Make sure that every team we play knows that they were in a war.”