Seeking new results on the pitch, the women's soccer team opens its season this weekend with a new face pacing the sidelines—head coach Tracey Bartholomew. Formerly the coach at LIU Brooklyn for 14 seasons, Bartholomew inherits a Lions team that finished sixth in the Ivy League with a 1-4-2 record last season.
“I would never have taken this job if I didn't believe this program could win a championship,” Bartholomew said. “I would absolutely love to push and get the character of this program knowing that they have a chance to win every single year.”
The Lions return two-thirds of their roster from last season, including a pair of the conference's top defenders in junior Emma Blackwood and senior Catherine Troup. Although the team lacks big names in its attack—it lost the midfield duo of Beverly Leon and Natalie Melo to graduation—Bartholomew said its experience could be an asset in conference play. Senior forward and co-captain Coleen Rizzo is back after missing the 2013 season with a torn ACL, augmenting last season's 30-point trio of junior Elly McGuffog and seniors Phoenetia Browne and Alexa Yow.
Team members also trained throughout the summer, and Bartholomew said that aided her transition.
“When we came in, we were able to hit the ground running,” she said. “At the same time, it gave us the summer to think through and work out some of the ideas that we wanted to do.”
The arrival of Bartholomew's best friend and longtime assistant Amphone Keovongmanysar has been crucial in the lead-up to the season as well. Bartholomew said her relationship with Keovongmanysar allows her to immediately focus on getting to know the team, rather than developing a relationship with her staff.
“Having him here—it's not like I am trying to get to know somebody,” she said.
The team's first test comes on Friday, against Sacred Heart—one of LIU Brooklyn's Northeast conference rivals.
“We have an idea of the sort of style that they play,” Bartholomew said. “It's nice to actually start off with actually knowing a team that's coming at you versus coming out with the Ivies.”
Columbia will next travel to Washington, D.C., to face Army on Sunday.
“We have switched some games around to get a little bit tougher competition,” Bartholomew said. “It's those preparation games, learning from those moments and hopefully having success so we are confident.”
She added that the team's schedule isn't strong enough to put the team in a conversation for an at-large bid, meaning what it does during its “big home Ivy weekends” with matches against Cornell, Princeton, and Dartmouth will go a long way toward defining the team's season.
“What we do in the Ivy League is what's going to get us the result,” she said.
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