Are great goal scorers born, or are they made?
After last season, when the top-four scorers for the Tribe combined for 15 goals, the same total forward Claire Zimmeck ’08 scored by herself in 2008, Head Coach John Daly hopes he can make his talented group of underclassmen into goal scorers.
“There’s a certain element of natural skill and ability for players like Zimmeck,” Daly said, “But there are certain things you can do. Your body shape when the ball comes in, attacking the space between the defense, not waiting and following the miss of another player.”
Daly will count on sophomore forward Erin Liberatore, who led the College with six goals last season, sophomore midfielder Mallory Schaffer and senior forward Danielle Axenfeld as primary goal scorers this season.
Liberatore had six goals last season, while Axenfeld scored the Tribe’s first goal of the season versus Syracuse.
“Mallory Schaffer will be one of our key players in the midfield this season,” Daly said. “Danielle didn’t have a great preseason, she was out of shape and had an injury, but she and Erin will be goal threats.”
A stout and experienced defense led by senior Kaitlin O’Connor and junior Diana Weigel, will compliment the Tribe attack from the back. Weigel was one of the best players on the College’s preseason trip to England and Ireland, according to Daly, and will, along with senior back Katy Winsper, push ahead from the backline.
“Diana is a very talented player,” Daly said. “She has good foot skill, good control, she can beat other players. You’ll see her and players like Katy Winsper push up on offense.”
Daly said the battle for the keeper position is still open, however sophomore Katherine Yount has started the first two matches between the pipes and recorded two clean sheets. She will look to hold off sophomore keeper Carla Manger and senior goalie, and last year’s starter, Grace Barnard throughout the season.
Every Tribe player has a nickname. Katherine Yount’s just happens to be the best: Wampo, the name of the College’s horse mascot in the 70s. But this spring, it was Yount’s play, not her nickname that drew attention. “She’s got a great physical presence,” Daly said. “She has a good wing-span, good reach and her kicking is good, but it could be better.” What cemented the starting job, for now, was Yount’s ability to perform under pressure. “She did very well in pressure situations and she came in ahead of [senior] Grace [Barnard] and [sophomore] Carla [Manger].”
With three attackers up front, it’s important for the Tribe defense to keep a flat back and mark the player in their zone. The midfielders form a triangle in the middle of the field, with the outside mids moved in and the center middie dropped back. Senior midfielder Brittany Lane plays an important role in the 4-3-3 alignment as the holding mid, controlling possession in the center of the field while looking to connect with attackers like freshman Audrey Barry and sophomore Erin Liberatore up top.
A defending formation, you’ll see the Tribe in this alignment when protecting a lead or if an opponent has owned the middle of the field. Once the College wins possession, look for backs like junior Diana Weigel and senior Katy Winsper to push forward and look to link up with the midfielders. The 4-5-1 gives midfield players such as sophomores Katrina Smedley and Mallory Schaffer a chance to take their player to the wide-open spaces created on the edges of the field and look to beat their defender one on one.