Women’s soccer looks to turn the corner with new talent, new system

Second-year women’s soccer head coach Kwame Lloyd enters the 2009 season facing many challenges if he hopes to improve on the seventh place finish from last season.

But with the help of his senior leaders and a talented freshman class, which boasts 13 players, the program could be on the upswing.

The Lady Cats have only 14 returning players, but Lloyd is confident that the team can develop good chemistry between the newcomers and the veterans.

In the offseason, Lloyd said the coaches “did a lot with the 14 returning players to encourage them to take on leadership roles in different ways.”

“The senior class has done a tremendous job with communicating with [the freshman class] throughout the summer. So when the 13 new players came in, there wasn’t a huge gap.”

Lloyd credits the improved communication to social networking such as Facebook, MySpace and text messaging, which helped keep the players in contact throughout the summer.

Senior captain Carson Laderoute agreed that the team’s communication has led to a cohesiveness that she has not seen in her previous three seasons at UVM.

“Our team chemistry is the best it’s been since I’ve been here,” Laderoute said.

But as motivated as the team is, the outside perspective is not as warm. Evidence lies in the preseason polls where the Catamounts were picked to finish eighth out of the nine teams in the America East.

Lloyd agreed with the current ranking of his team, but also knows the potential of his group more than poll voters.

“It’s the right pick for the teams and history we’ve had. But we know we can only go forward from where we are,” he said.

Laderoute says the low ranking only motivates the team to play even harder and to prove doubters wrong.

Both Lloyd and Laderoute know improvement is forthcoming, especially with the new system that the team has implanted under Lloyd.

“We’re trying to become more of a possession team and a team that attacks with numbers,” Lloyd said. “We take a lot of chances getting forward and putting points on the board.”

Lloyd also emphasized the importance of each player knowing their own role and he wants each player to be able to play multiple roles on the field.

After having one season of Lloyd’s system under their belts, the 14 returnees must help the newcomers adapt to the system.

“We’ve been trying to teach them as much as possible and be mentors out on the field for them,” Laderoute said.

Now with the infusion of new talent and system, Lloyd has higher expectations for this year’s squad.

“I want to finish in the top half as the conference and establish ourselves as a regional powerhouse,” Lloyd said. “We know we’re not that far away.”