The Violets endured a tough start to the season, losing their first four games. While the team struggled offensively, only scoring two goals during that period, it also allowed nine goals on the defensive side.
“I think it was just the chemistry of the team, just trying to find a starting 11,” SPS first-year and goalkeeper Luca Mancuso said. “We didn’t really have time to take those two losses in the first weekend, and get back together, regroup and go out again. We just had to go weekend to weekend.”
With 11 first-years on the team this year, the young Violets took some time to adjust to the higher level of play.
“We had some freshmen on the field and that inexperience of a first college game really showed in that first match we played against Ithaca,” Head Coach Kim Wyant said.
Last season, the team finished with a 12-4-3 record and made its first NCAA postseason appearance since 2010. Naturally, expectations were high coming into this year. Despite their early struggles, the Violets’ faith never wavered.
“No one lost confidence,” Wyant said. “Everyone knew that we were a very good team, and that it was just a matter of figuring it out. Which we did.”
Now, with two weeks left in the regular season, the Violets’ record sits at 6-5-1. Before Sunday’s narrow 1-0 overtime loss to the No. 5 nationally-ranked University of Chicago, NYU was riding a six-game winning streak.
The atmosphere surrounding the team since its improved performances is palpable both in the locker room and on the field.
“The overall mood is different,” LS first-year and forward Ethan Pizano said. “The first four games were tough mentally. That was pretty much the toughest issue. But once that first win came, I think it just clicked.”
“We’re definitely clicking a lot more,” Mancuso agreed. “We’re making better passes. We’re a better team altogether.”
Following last season’s success, the players and coaching staff now aspire to qualify for the NCAA tournament every year.
“We feel like that’s the level of the program now,” Co-captain and CAS senior Owen Smith said. “We should be in contention to make the tournament every single season.”
However, with the memory of those early losses still fresh in their minds, the Violets are not taking anything for granted this season.
“It’s just one game at a time.” Manusco said. “We’re not supposed to get cocky, we’re supposed to keep going, but I think we have a very good chance.”
“In some ways, I think [the losses] hardened us, and they set us up pretty well for the results we are seeing now,” Wyant said.
The Violets’ next game is on Oct. 26 against Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, New York.
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, print edition. Email Bin Cho at [email protected]