The Centurion

Big Changes Coming for Bucks Women’s Soccer

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Big Changes Coming for Bucks Women’s Soccer

Robert Simmons

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The Bucks Women’s Soccer Team returns for the 2018 season after what was arguably the greatest season in program history, with record wins and record-shattering goals scored. However, speculation surrounds the success of the Lady Centurions now that they have a new head coach.

Most teams that suffer the loss of a successful head coach are bound for a season of rebuilding and setbacks. That does not seem to be the case with this team, as expectations are sky- high for head coach Maria Grady. Grady comes from a rich soccer background and hopes to build upon the foundation she’s inheriting.

As a player, Grady set a record for career goals at her South Jersey high school Our Lady of Mercy. An impressive 86 goals is a record that still stands to this day. Later, her exploits caught the attention of the coaches at The College of New Jersey, where she went on to play for another four years, including a run to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament in 2009.

Following her career as a player, Grady moved on to coaching at Holy Cross Academy in Delran, NJ where she began as the assistant coach. As an assistant, she helped lead the varsity squad to a Non-Public South Jersey Championship.

Winning is in her DNA, and it’s an attribute Bucks hopes is contagious. “I am a coach who respects the hard work that is put into the game, on and off the field,” said the first year coach. It will be about more than just hard work for the Lady Centurions, however. Grady realizes the successful season this team had last year and understands the importance of not trying to change too much.

Last season Bucks saw the greatest goal-scoring season in program history, due in large part to player Brooklynn Smith. Smith notched an incredible 25 goals a season ago, which was also a Lady Centurions record. Although Smith and her knack for scoring is something difficult to replace, there’s a few more than capable candidates on this squad.

Sophomores Teresa Yeager and Jamie Apple look to lead the way this season up front. As freshmen, both Yeager and Apple contributed 11 goals each along with six and five assists respectively. With the experienced core of sophomores alongside the incoming wave of first-year talents like Brianna Columbo, there’s goals to be had this season– goals that will be much needed in some big matchups this year.

Another emphasis this season will be on team comradery and family. “I think the one thing I want to do it make sure the girls feel like they are part of a family.  I come from a college program where traditions were so important to our team and that part of the game is something you cannot teach,” Grady noted. “I want these new traditions to be passed down from year to year and not come from me, but come from the second year [players] so the girls can feel more together on this team than anything they have been a part of before.”

There will be a heavy reliance on the returning second-year players to step into leadership roles and implement the traditions of which Grady spoke. Team captains Teresa Yeager and Kailie Mitchell have been especially crucial in helping this year’s incoming class feel at home. “Having a year under their belts has really made a difference in helping the new players adapt quickly,” said Grady.

Having seven first-year players in the starting 11, the sky is the limit for this team—both in the short term as well as the future. “Every single freshman has impressed me with their commitment to the team since day one. We have seven new players in our starting line-up.  I think that shows how great of an impact this class has made already,” said the optimistic Coach Grady.

Coach Maria Grady sees every game as a challenge and chance for this young team to prove their worth. There are definitely games on the schedule that she finds particularly exciting. “There are a few games that stand out for me but there are two that I am really excited for and that is Rowan College at Gloucester County and Cumberland County,” said Grady. “I have a good relationship with both of these coaches and know what they bring to the table as coaches.  They both have great programs and I am excited to see how we match up.”

It will be interesting to see how this team handles the changes of a new coach and new faces along with the pressures of following up on an incredible 2017 season. All early signs indicate that they’re in good hands and look poised to make another successful run this season.

Lady Centurions 2018 Schedule

OCTOBER

Tue. 2  Camden County College                                 3:30 PM

Thu. 4  at Union County College                                3:30 PM

Sat. 6   at Cumberland County College                      12:00 PM

Tue. 9  Northampton Community College                 3:30 PM

Thu. 11 at Bergen Community College                      4:00 PM

Sat. 13 Brookdale Community College                      12:00 PM

Tue. 16 at Montgomery County CC                           3:30 PM

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Big Changes Coming for Bucks Women’s Soccer