By Matt Anastasi and Tim Foley, News Correspondents
For the women’s soccer team, the 2013 season has brought a crop of fresh faces. The team’s 11 freshmen, five of whom started in the most recent game against University of Maine on Friday, have proven to be a dynamic class early in the season.
Leone recruited a talented freshman class to fill the void left by graduates in an attempt to compete in an ever-changing college landscape.
“It’s a really talented class. We have an array of positions spread out around the board from goalkeepers all the way up to our forwards. They are a really focused, hard working class with some great intrinsic qualities.”
The qualities Leone described are being strengthened as the freshmen continue to play alongside veterans.
“It’s been so cool,” Skylar LeBlanc, a freshman defender/midfielder, said of playing with her older teammates. “It’s a great learning experience. They have so much knowledge, and so much to offer and it’s a great process for me,” she said.
The team’s veterans are not the only source of guidance and inspiration for the rookies. LeBlanc also cited her experience playing for Leone as a learning opportunity.
“I love playing for Coach,” LeBlanc said. “She’s always so positive, and she has so much knowledge and experience because she was a player herself, and she always keeps us together and motivated.”
LeBlanc is not the only freshman who recognized the opportunity of playing for Leone, and along with that the opportunity to live in Boston.
This year’s class is a distinct group. The new players come from places as far as Gig Harbor, Wash., and as close as Natick.
“Northeastern and the city of Boston draws people from all over the world, and we are very lucky to work for such a prestigious institution,” Leone said. “We feel really blessed to be able to bring people together who would have otherwise not have met each other.”
The vast array of backgrounds is not limited to the United States. Jill Quinn, a freshman goalkeeper, comes from Toronto, Ontario. Quinn, along with Caton Beaulieu, also a rookie, are the team’s future talents in net, looking to follow the path of junior starter Paige Burnett.
Despite their variety of backgrounds, the young players have bonded throughout the season thus far. In the case of Jenny and Haley Sinclair, that bond predates the first day of training camp over the summer. The twin sisters from Glen Allen, Va. played three years of varsity soccer together at Deep Run High School, and also shared the field for the Richmond Strikers club team.
“I love it,” Jenny said of playing with her sister. “It’s really fun for both of us, I’ve played with her my entire life, and that translates to how well we play together on the field.”
Like the Sinclair twins, most of the freshmen have been playing soccer since a very young age. However, transitioning from high school and top notch club soccer teams to the collegiate level is no easy task.
“Coming from high school to college, play is so much faster and more physical, so it’s something I’ve had to adjust to,” Jenny Sinclair said.
The hard work by the rookies has not gone unnoticed by Leone.
“They are a dream class in my opinion,” Leone said. “Nice kids, hardworking people and talented players that just want to get better. I really appreciate and admire that, and that’s just want you want from young players coming in.”
With rookies making up half the starting lineup Friday, the freshman class is making an impact. This can only bode well for the Huskies as they look to build a successful team for this season and beyond.