PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – You know things are going well for you when the fact that you are undefeated isn’t the headline for your season to this point. But that is the case for the La Salle women’s soccer team. Not only are they 6-0-1, but they are the only Division I women’s team in the country yet to allow a goal.
“It’s kind of funny, it’s one of those things (the scoreless streak) you almost don’t want to talk about because you keep it in the back pocket,” says La Salle head coach Paul Royal. “But obviously it’s great for the girls to understand that they are doing something special.”
And Royal says this defensive success comes despite the fact that he and his coaches had to significantly alter the team blueprint coming into the campaign.
“We lost three key players that we had high hopes for playing up top and being more of an attacking-minded team this preseason,” he tells KYW Newsradio. “After preseason was over, we figured out that we might be losing these kids for the whole run and moved (Philadelphia native) Courtney Niemiec, who was probably one of the top center-midfielders in the conference, to the back line, and it really shored things up. And it’s really given our team a lot of belief.”
Of course you don’t go seven-for-seven in shutouts without great goaltending. Senior Melissa Sanger has been between the pipes for every game this season, and Royal says it’s no accident she is dominating.
“This has been something that we have seen coming since she came in as a freshman. She’s really thrived as a leader, thrived in developing, wants to be the best player all the time, and really has built her confidence up to where it is all coming full circle now. She is a great shot blocker, but she’s now become more of a complete keeper and I can honestly say she’s been the best leader I’ve ever seen in the college game and coached.”
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La Salle’s success so far this season has come mostly on the road, where they have played five of their seven games. But they return home tonight to host Loyola of Maryland at 7:00pm.
Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060