Sports

Cross ’15 aims to lead women’s soccer into Storm

After losing eight starters, team opens season against St. John’s, 2013 NCAA tourney entrants

By
Sports Editor
Friday, September 5, 2014

Head Coach Phil Pincince, who has been at Brown longer than any other current coach, and the women’s soccer team will have their work cut out for them Friday as they start their 2014 campaign, traveling to Saint John’s University to battle a Red Storm team that qualified for the NCAA tournament last season.

The Bears are coming off an impressive season of their own, which ended in the squad’s first winning Ivy season since 2006, finishing 10-6-1 overall. But the departure of eight seniors means a number of young players and rookies will see time on the pitch.

“Every year we lose seniors and get new” first-years, said forward Kirsten Belinsky ’15, who downplayed the loss of starters and emphasized the team’s past resilience. “This year will be different just like last year was, and we’re looking forward to competing with the group we have.”

Despite much of the starting lineup’s departure, the focal point of Bruno’s offense remains captain Chloe Cross ’15. The senior led the team in goals and assists last year and compiled 19 total points, more than twice as many as any other Bear. Thanks in part to the team’s low-scoring, defensive mindset, Cross was a massive producer and contributed in a staggering 60 percent of Bruno’s 2013 goals.

If the gaudy scoring numbers weren’t enough, Pincince lauded Cross’s attitude and competitive mindset as her best qualities and said he hopes the captain’s example will provide a boost to the rookies.

While Cross steers the offense, a fellow All-Ivy senior anchors the back line. Annie Gillen ’15, who is entering her third year as a starter, can influence both the defensive and offensive game. Led by Gillen, a stout defense helped the 2013 squad to 10 wins in spite of the team having the lowest-scoring offense in the league. Gillen does her part on offense, too, finishing first on the team in assists last year.

Gillen and the defense will be given one of their most difficult tests of the season Friday in containing Red Storm junior forward Rachel Daly. The scoring machine broke a St. John’s record with 23 goals last season — the next-highest total on the team was four. Daly racked up a hat trick against Bruno last season to lead her team to a convincing 4-0 win.

A core of Red Storm then-first-years, including goalie Diane Poulin, complemented Daly in the team’s NCAA tournament run last season and return to lead the St. John’s squad again.

But the Bears aren’t worrying too much about the quality of their first opponent, Belinsky said. “We’re just excited to start playing games.”