Photo by Tomi Lahcanski/The Ram
The Fordham Women’s soccer team has had a bumpy start to its year but as the old adage goes, once conference play starts it’s a new season. The Lady Rams have momentum going into their A-10 opener against Duquesne tonight, winning their last two games against Fairfield and Loyola respectively. I talked to Head Coach Ness Selmani about the nature of his team, choosing captains, and the team’s new style of play.
What are your general thoughts on the season so far?
The season is going ok, it could be better, but I think the many injuries we had affected our outcomes. So I’m hoping once our conference starts it becomes a new season.
You had a big freshmen class last year, how are your freshmen stacking up this year?
We only have four freshmen but two, Victoria Camaj and Joan Murino, have been playing very well. It’s encouraging. For Aly Gungor and Ivana Lahcanski, this is a little too fast of a game. I think they will get better, but right now, I don’t think they’re fully prepared to be incorporated into the team, and it’s up to them. They have the skill level but do they have the desire and fighting spirit?
How tough was losing some seniors who were captains?
You never really count them but we only had three seniors last year, two of them captains. The problem is, being a captain you have to focus and be in charge of the team and some of the captains are not capable of that in the case that they want to be friends. Either you’re a captain or a friend and I think that was the problem last year. This year Annie Worden and Kaitlin Abrams know what their job is so they are coaches on the field if I’m off. You have to identify the leaders, and the captains this year are really doing a great job.
What accounts for some of your struggles before the current two-game win streak?
One of our struggles has been that we’ve been playing high-pressure soccer. We changed [philosophies] after the two losses to Columbia and Dartmouth because of the numbers we have, because we don’t have a big bench. We decided to play kind of low-pressure. I don’t like it because I was a forward myself, but we have to adjust to them. And it showed in the results on Friday and Sunday, and from now on, because of the numbers, we will play the same way.
Is that tough for you?
It’s tough but I have to adjust to my players. I have to change according to my team. What I like doesn’t matter.
Do you recruit in that way (high pressure) though?
Yes, I do, and if we had the numbers, I would never stop because we are the team everyone fears to play because of the way we play. Even non-conference [teams], if they play us once, they don’t want to play us a second time. We go 90 minutes and no one wants to go 90 minutes punch for punch. But I think we needed to change the tactics according to the players that we have.
How are you dealing with a two-goalie system now between Rachel Suther and Aly White?
Rachel is a senior, and if I have to choose 50/50, I would choose Rachel. But I couldn’t care less who’s in goal. Rachel would be there just for sheer experience. But saying that doesn’t mean anything, so they’ll be on and off according to how they’ve played and how sharp they were. They are always ready to go and now that we’re playing conference games, only the best goalie will play. If you do well, you stay on. There will be no subbing unless I need to sub. If the goalie is doing well, they stay on, and if that means nine games, then nine games they stay on. I’m not afraid as both are very good goalies. Rachel has more experience and that makes a difference in a certain situation. Whomever I think is doing a better job I’ll play.
Starting Conference play, how much do you analyze your opponent the week before you play them?
I never emphasize much about how the other team plays because then you mess up your own tactics. I expect my team to give 100 percent and then we count the goals in the end. The thing is that, yes, you identify what the dangers are, who’s a better player, who’s a weaker player, but not counting every player. I don’t like telling my team “we have to watch this one, we have to watch that one.” If you do that, then they are thinking about them instead of thinking about themselves.