Freshman defender earns conference All-Rookie honors

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Freshman defender earns conference All-Rookie honors

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By Mike Puzzanghera, news staff

Switching to a new position after a lifetime of playing somewhere else can be tough, but first-year women’s soccer defender Grace Moore makes it look easy.

A business major from Rocky Hill, Connecticut., Moore was named to the CAA All-Rookie team, an honor worth mentioning even before considering Moore played right back, a position she never played before, this season.

“I’ve always been a center back and I started at center back, then me and Juni [second-year defender Julianne Ross] switched,” Moore said. “It was a transition. It wasn’t difficult, but it was certainly something new that I had never done before.”

Moore credits her teammates with helping her make the switch.

“I’ve never played outside back so it was learning that position and also still trying to play how I normally do with the girls in the back,” Moore said. “Juni and Eve [senior defender Eve Goulet] at center back helped guide me along and helped me make the smoother transition to that position.”

The CAA’s end of season awards for women’s soccer included seven Huskies. Moore was the only member of the All-Rookie team. The all-CAA first team contained three Huskies, fourth-year goalkeeper Nathalie Nidetch, fourth-year midfielder Valentina Soares Gache and Ross. Two Huskies made the second team, fourth-year forward Hannah Rosenblatt and second-year defender Mikenna McManus. Second-year forward Chelsea Domond made the all-CAA third team.

The Huskies finished the season with a 10-9-1 record and an impressive 7-2-0 record in conference play. The season came to an unfortunate end on Sunday, however, as the Huskies fell to Hofstra 1-0 in the semifinal of the conference tournament.

Head coach Ashley Phillips said Moore’s versatility has given the team options as to where to play her.

“She’s done really well at outside back because she’s got a good range of passing on her and she’s gained a lot of fitness over the years so she can get up and down,” Phillips said. “I think over time she’ll become a true center back for us. She’s just kind of fit in where we need her this year and I think that’s really helped.”

The change in position also brought new responsibilities for Moore, who must go up in attack and come back in defense on the right hand side. Moore’s passing ability has helped her in the position and even led to an assist for the first-year in a 2-1 win over Delaware on Sept. 20, her first and only point in the season.

On Oct. 25, the CAA released their end-of-season awards, naming Moore among the All-Rookie team.

“I heard today and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool,’ not expecting it but it’s certainly exciting,” Moore said. “If the backline and the team itself wasn’t doing as well, if we weren’t so successful, I know that I probably wouldn’t be getting such a spotlight.”

Phillips said that upon watching Moore play, she was immediately interested in recruiting her.

“She’s athletic, she’s really strong in the air, good off the tackle and pretty good on the ball for a young kid,” Phillips said. “I think she kind of suited everything we were looking for. We were really interested right off the bat. Obviously once we got her on campus to visit and stuff like that her interest level grew.”

In her first season with the Huskies, Moore played 1423 minutes across 20 games, starting 18 of those. This included 90 minutes in the conference semifinal loss versus Hofstra University, where she started at right back and played the entire game.

Despite having to change position early on, Moore began her college career assured in her abilities.

“She came in pretty confident. I think she just really pushed right from the start to take in all of the tactical stuff we were teaching,” Phillips said. “I also think she took her opportunities early on really well and showcased herself really well in games that she got chances in and I think that’s kind of what we were looking for.”

Phillips said Moore’s start is a good sign for the next few years.

“It makes you feel good about her future here,” Phillips said. “It makes you feel good that you get her that experience young and that her next few years she won’t have to learn as much. It’s always a bonus when a freshman comes in and plays the minutes she has.”

After some initial struggles as a team during the start of the season, the Huskies put together a stretch of five clean sheets in a row and six total in conference play. Moore said the team never let those early negative results get to them.

“I think it was more just about team confidence,” Moore said. “We knew that we were good enough and a lot of the games that we lost in non-conference play, most of them were close games and it was just kind of about that one last piece clicking together, like everyone working cohesively, trying to find our rhythm.”

Moore said her growing friendships with the players on the team helped the team’s success as the year went on.

“We are really close. Especially now, because its towards the end of the season, we’ve gotten to know each other,” Moore said. “And I think that kind of accounts for our success. We’ve gotten closer off the field which helps a lot when you’re playing on the field.”