Women’s soccer sets the bar high
By Natalie Shirvanian
With every season comes change. In this case, change comes in the form of a new head coach for the women’s soccer team. Head coach Dave Carver takes over the program for 2015 and is confident in his ability to continue to bring quality success to the women’s program. Carver, who served as the assistant coach of Schoolcraft Men’s Soccer team for the past four years also, is an alumnus of the men’s soccer program. In his short tenure so far, Carver has set the bar high for his team this upcoming season.
During the 2014 season, the Ocelots fell short of their goal to win a national championship when they succumbed to a season ending loss to Owens Community College, 1-0 at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XII Championships. The team ended their season with a record of 11-2-1 overall. Carver is enthusiastic and confident in the group of women who are returning, as well as the new recruits he signed this offseason.
The Ocelots are composed of a mixture of both returning and incoming players, all which have one goal in mind: going to the NJCAA National Tournament.
According to Carver, the squad is deep, which means the team is not relying on one or two players to carry the bulk of the work on the field. Sophomore forwards, Shae van Gassen (Sarina, ON) and Cienna Rael-Whitsitt (Ypsilanti, MI) return this season with more poise to attack on the field. The backline also consists of a powerful combination of returning sophomore defenders, Cynthia Konan (Southgate, MI), Lacey Chanady (Hartland, MI) and Maddie Cook (South Lyon, MI).
The sharp defensive talent shows as only one of the elements to the team. “The midfield is our largest group of players,” Carver said, “that’s why we’re so deep.” With positions filled with driven Ocelots, the women are constantly competing for starting spots, which allows for training to be intense and competitive.
The team also welcomed new recruits. Added to the roster for the 2015 season are freshmen forwards, Katie Vitella (Sterling Heights, MI) and Sam Alatto (Rochester, MI), along with midfield, Colleen McKay (Rochester Hills, MI), who plan on executing their offensive talents.
“The returning players have done a fantastic job of integrating the new players,” Carver commented. The returning players must adjust to the new coaching staff and incoming players; recruit players that come to Schoolcraft arrive with the mission to spring onto bigger opportunities and schools.
New coaching staff
The coaching staff includes all first year coaches who have an extensive soccer resume they bring to the pitch. Assistant coach, Mark Forrester, brings an elite coaching background in which he has coached a wide variety of age groups for British Elite Soccer Group, where he coached for the South Oakland Premiere Soccer Club. He is also the head coach for Michigan Impact Soccer Club. Assistant coach, Dane Laird, is also an alumnus of the Schoolcraft soccer men’s team and played on the same 2010 team with Carver. Laird also played for Madonna University from 2011-2012.Assistant coach, Jeff Shuk, will be splitting his coaching duties between both the men and women’s team. Assistant coach, Samantha Harrington also an alumnus of the Schoolcraft soccer program (2008-2009), brings her expertise of playing at the collegiate level to the coaching staff.
While the regular season is loaded with heavy competition for the Ocelots, Carver feels confident by the group of women this season. Although last year’s squad came close last year to making it to the National Tournament, this group has the right mindset to keep them motivated to capitalize on missed opportunities from last season.
Schoolcraft is in contention to be one of the top teams in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) yet again, but colleges like Owens Community College, who defeated the Ocelots in the NJCAA Region XII semi-finals, may make for some stiff competition in regional play.
Sizing up the competition
The team opened up the regular season in Jackson on Aug. 26 and beat the host Jets 15-0. They face the Jets again on Sept. 20 at home. Additional conference matches include, Lake Michigan on Aug. 29 and Sept. 12, Delta College on Sept. 23 and Oct. 4, Muskegon Community College on Sept. 27 and Oct. 11 and Ancilla College on Oct. 2 and Oct. 16. Regional matches against Cincinnati State Technical and CC on Aug. 30 and Oct. 18, Owen’s Community College on Sept. 16 and Oct. 9 and Monroe Community College on Oct. 17 will round out the season’s schedule.
The 2015 season looks to be one poised for another championship run for the Ocelots. New players bringing their talent onto the field combined with veteran grit should assemble the correct potion to defeat some of the tougher competition for the Ocelots and bring the team one step closer to a National Championship run.
For rosters, game schedules and scores go to www.mccaa.org.