Injuries and tough schedule challenge Hawks

All good things must come to an end, right? 

There is no question that the RWU women’s soccer team has been on top of the CCC for the past decade, as they have won six conference championships since 2010. So a losing record in the beginning of the season should be a concern. 

Yet, the Hawks have been here before and responded well. Last season, the Hawks started the season 1-5 and were still able to recover to make the conference postseason.  

Sitting 2-4 on the current season, the Hawks have faced many formidable opponents. The Hawks played the top two teams of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), first when they opened the season against that conference’s runner-up, Springfield College. Hawks then faced the conference champion, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, when they lost on Sept. 10.  

With a difficult start to the season, the Hawks have looked to keep things simple. 

“Our biggest focus as a team has been to take each practice and each game day by day, ” said sophomore midfielder Lexi Larson. 

Much of this has been focused on the mental aspect of the game. 

“Being fit as a team mentally and physically, keeping our heads up and not dwelling on past losses, conveying strong leadership to each other and always having a positive attitude helps to sharpen our mental focus,” said Larson. 

On top of the difficult schedule the Hawks faced, graduating experienced players and encountering injuries within the team have not made things easier.

“We graduated three starting seniors, so filling those leadership roles from vital players on the field was tough in the beginning,” said Larson. 

In addition, due to injuries during the preseason, the Hawks had to make adjustments with different formations and positions. 

Three experienced sophomore midfielders: Maggie Hickey, Sammy Jost and Kelly Yadoff went down with injuries. Senior captain Kayla Larosa, a midfielder who started in 39 games the past two seasons, faced injury as well. 

“Key players on the team were out for a couple games, so it slightly changed the team dynamic. We had to adapt to new formations and some teammates were put in positions that were unfamiliar,” said Larson.    

Although the record right now may not be very flattering, Larson points out how it can make the team better.

“Although we have lost a few games, it has made us discover our weaknesses and it has given us time to improve upon those mistakes before we play some CCC games. This is a really hardworking and cohesive group of girls and that will take us a long way,” Larson said. 

The Hawks kick their conference schedule off on Saturday, Sept. 21, when they visit the defending CCC champions, University of New England, in Biddeford, Maine. After everything they have encountered up to this point, it should be a great test for the Hawks.