The Plattsburgh State women’s soccer team heads into its final game before conference play riding a strong start, with a 4-1 record.
The team’s initial success has seen great reward.
After Saturday’s 1-0 victory over RPI (1-3), the Cardinals were ranked 14th in the nation in the first United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division III Women’s National Poll, released Tuesday.
Head coach Tania Armellino was happy that the team got some validation for its early success, but knows that the important part will be keeping it up.
“Anything that recognizes the girls and what they’re trying to do is amazing,” Armellino said. “By the same token, you’ve got to go game to game. We’ve always said, ‘Whether you’re ranked no. 105 or no. 5, it really doesn’t matter; it’s about getting the job done.”
PSUC also got some appreciation on the individual level, sweeping the weekly conference awards.
Monday, freshman forward/midfielder Kirsten Villemaire was named State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Women’s Soccer Offensive athlete of the week, while graduate student goalkeeper Taylor Adams took the defensive athlete honors.
Villemaire scored PSUC’s only goal against RPI, bringing the freshman’s total tally to three in four games.
Armellino was happy to see the Plattsburgh native’s hot start get rewarded.
“When she plays, she just plays,” Armellino said. “She predominantly played left-midfield for the first time against RPI. She’ll answer that call, make things happen and not be afraid to be creative.”
Seeing Adams, a player that has been gone through two ACL injuries and has been on the team since Armellino was hired, realizing her potential has been truly special for the coach.
“She has fought through so much to get out the other side,” Armellino said. “She’s always had the talent, and I think it’s such a beautiful thing to see her commit and work hard, and to develop.”
Adams’ shutout against RPI was her third of the year.
Armellino has been stressing strong team defence from the beginning of the season, so another clean-sheet for PSUC was a beautiful sight for the coach.
“RPI was our best yet,” Armellino said. “It was the most organized defensively that we’ve played as a unit.”
Veteran defender Michelle Nowak agreed.
“This is my senior year, and I think this is the best team defense that we’ve had,” Nowak said. “We have such good chemistry that even if we forget to talk, we can cover each other.”
And it needed to be the best against a team like No. 9 ranked Middlebury (4-0).
The Panthers outshot the Cards 16-8 in PSUC’s first loss of the season as the Cards lost 3-0.
“It’s always been one of our toughest games,” Nowak said. “They’re always a great team.”
The upcoming game against Skidmore (3-1) will be the final game before conference play, but the team isn’t looking too far ahead.
“It’s all about how we play, day-to-day,” said Sarah Bonner, junior midfielder/defender. “It’s not thinking about two weeks from now, it’s not thinking about SUNYACs.”
Skidmore comes into the matchup on a hot start of their own with a 3-1 record so far this season. Armellino knows it and is ready for the matchup.
“They’re organized, they work hard, and they’ve got a couple really talented kids that move the ball well through the midfield,” Armellino said. “The liberty league is a great conference, and we’ll be playing someone who’s in that league and competing, so Skidmore should be another great battle for us.”
Email Ben Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org