- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
By virtue of its never-say-die attitude, unique balance of team chemistry and constant work ethic daily, the College of Southern Maryland women’s soccer team is looking to emerge in the upcoming 2011 campaign.
With a gritty determination and a willingness to win, like the heroic United States women’s national team that reached the FIFA Women’s World Cup championship game last month, the Hawks and head coach Adam Sanchez are ready to take on new challenges, with the addition of some new faces.
“Absolutely,” Sanchez replied when asked about instilling the same USA team attitude toward his team about playing hard all the time. “When you look at the USA women’s national team, that’s how we want to play. Any girl’s dream is to make it to that team, so we try to have that die-hard attitude, fight for 90 minutes. They are the inspiration for us and we try to do the same things off and on the field. I constantly look at the USA women’s and French national teams to pick up things from the coaching staff. Those teams play at a high level and that’s what I want to instill into them.”
The Hawks have 16 players on the roster, including Erika Specht, a 2009 Thomas Stone High School graduate who is a new face to the CSM campus and will be the team’s center midfielder.
Specht attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Fla.) last year but did not play any sports. Due to a change in her major, which was meteorology last year, she came back to Southern Maryland, where she said she wanted to get back on the soccer field.
“We didn’t have soccer down at Embry-Riddle, so I’m excited. I really missed it,” said Specht, who will major in criminal justice this year. She will be a sophomore in the classroom but a freshman on the field.
“Being home is definitely nice, family is nearby and playing soccer is always a plus. I’ve made some great friends already and we seem to be a good team,” she said. “We are mainly working on small technical skills and defense. It’s a few girls from select and from SMAC that I know and they are all good players.”
“Erika is exactly the type of player we want to bring in, she’s tough on the ball and a good leader,” Sanchez said of Specht. “She is a fantastic student, has a very coachable attitude and will probably be the one of the best midfielders in our conference. She’s an all-around athlete and has a passion for the game.”
Vania Stottlemyer, an incoming freshman who graduated from Huntingtown High School, comes from a winning program and helped lead the Hurricanes’ girls soccer team to the Class 3A state title game.
“We are getting to know each other and have been working out since this summer to get ready for the season,” Stottlemyer said. “Coach Sanchez wants us to try our best and wants me to bring intensity. I’ve been playing soccer since I was 5, so all the hard work has paid off.”
“She plays at a high level and comes from a winning program in high school,” Sanchez said. “We want to take her to the next level. She is the kind [of] athlete that sees the competition and just raises her play because she wants to excel.”
Erica Lemmert, also a CSM freshman and a La Plata High School graduate, will be the engine for the program, Sanchez said.
“The girls are really nice on the team,” said Lemmert, who will probably play midfield. “I like playing close to home, I don’t have to play on a team that’s far away. The intensity so far is great in college, it’s going to [be] a lot more work to balance school and academics.”
“I’ve seen her play a couple of times her senior year at La Plata,” Sanchez said. “She just has so much energy, I’m very excited to have her. She never gives up and we are surrounding her with great players, and now she can find a niche for us. She can play out wide; she can put balls up in the upper 90s far post. She reminds me of Heather O’Reilly from the USA women’s national team.”
Last season, CSM finished 8-8-1 overall and was fifth in Maryland JUCO with a 4-4 record.
CSM advanced all the way to the JUCO Region XX regional semifinals, where it fell to Harford Community College 5-0. This fall, Sanchez, in his third season, said he wants to go even further.
“Our goal every year is to always compete for the Maryland JUCO conference championship in the regular season,” said Sanchez, whose team will open the season on Sept. 6 at Catonsville, a conference game. “We always want to improve from the previous year. If you look at the 8-8-1 last year, it wasn’t better than my first year, 9-7-1. They are just numbers; my first-year schedule was softer than last season. We got better as the year went on last year.”
Sanchez pointed out that he wants to take those 1-0 losses a season ago and turn them into wins and continue to play better soccer.
“The key for us this year is that the college is putting in a new Bermuda grass field,” he said. CSM will play its home opener on its new home field on Sept. 17 versus Potomac State (W.Va.). “It’s going to be flat and it fits my philosophy because we like to keep possession, we want to keep the ball on the ground. Our field before wouldn’t let us do that, but with the flat surface we can do that. It will be fantastic.”