The Huskies were right there. Despite a slow start through their 2018 non-conference schedule, the women’s soccer team rallied late in the season and won seven of their last nine contests, two of those victories against the eventual Colonial Athletic Association champion Hofstra University and runner-up James Madison University.
They looked confident and poised heading into their semifinal matchup against the Hofstra Pride, but an early goal in the eighth minute put them down and the Huskies never recovered.
This year, head coach Ashley Phillips said she’s spent the offseason preparing her players for the long haul, with their sights set on another run at the CAA championship. Phillips specifically stressed the need for more consistency out of her players.
“The ultimate goal for us is to win the CAA championship,” said Phillips, who is in her fourth season at the helm. “Throughout last year, our performance was inconsistent, and that took a toll on us late in the year. As we got late into the season, our depth was not where we wanted it to be. As a staff, we really focused on how we could keep the kids focused, engaged, fit, and hungry for competition, even if they’re not playing 60, 70 minutes every game.”
CAA preseason rankings put the Huskies as the third-best team in the conference, behind Hofstra and James Madison, the two teams that will provide a litmus test for the Huskies if they are to win the conference tournament, Phillips said.
“Hofstra is always a great battle, and James Madison is just as good as last year, if not better,” Phillips said. “Those are the two biggest matchups in conference right now. We definitely have our eyes on them.”
The Huskies built a reputation for having one of the conference’s best defensive lines, with seven shutouts last year. Their back line features two standouts in junior defenders Julianne Ross and Mikenna McManus, who earned First Team and Second Team All-CAA selections last year.
In addition to Ross and McManus, Phillips said senior captains Eve Goulet and Emily Evangelista are poised to have big seasons as leaders of the team both on and off the field.
“Eve Goulet, her leadership and grit, she’s always been stable for us,” Phillips said. “And Emily, she’s really stepped up in the absence of the seniors who graduated last year. We’re really lucky because we have a couple of seniors now that had some component of leadership roles during their junior years.”
The Huskies kick off their season on the road at Stony Brook University on Thursday, Aug. 22, before returning to Parson’s Field for their home opener against Albany University on Sunday, Aug. 25.