New coach set to lead AU women’s soccer team
ALFRED, NY — New Alfred University head women’s soccer coach Aileen Ascolese has felt excited to lead the program since her on-campus interview for the position.
“Once I left campus, I said this is the place I want to be,” Ascolese said. “I’m thrilled to be here.”
Ascolese, who was appointed AU head coach on March 4, has a solid coaching resume. She previously served as a full-time assistant at Brandeis University, a member of the University Athletic Association. Brandeis went 16-5-2 last season, advancing to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division III championship tournament. She also served as an assistant coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2009 and 2010, and as a graduate assistant two seasons (2007 and 2008) at Elmira College, where she was interim head coach in the spring of 2008.
She played at the collegiate level at Division I Rider University, where she was a four-year starter and team captain her senior year, twice earning NCAA scholar-athlete honors.
The Saxons will begin the 2013 season in Glassboro, NJ, at the Rowan University Tournament. AU takes on host Rowan on Friday, Aug. 30, and plays Lasell College on Saturday, Aug. 31. The team will play two more road games before hosting Penn College in its home opener Sept. 14. Ascolese and the Saxons look to improve on a 2012 campaign in which the team went 7-10-0 (1-6-0 Empire 8). She said the players have adjusted well to her coaching style.
“They’re really on board,” said Ascolese. “We’ve got some personalities on the team. The returners have taken to me. The incoming players are excited to be here at Alfred. I couldn’t ask for better.”
Ascolese praised her assistant coaches, graduate assistant Christine Kwilosz and part-time assistant Craig Yanni, for their role in this positive transition.
“You’re only as good as your help,” said Ascolese. “My support staff is fantastic. I have two very qualified, capable, energetic assistant coaches.”
Ascolese admits the 20-player roster she inherited lacks depth; the team added two players following a tryout at Merrill Field this week. Nevertheless, she said she wants to establish a new foundation for the program this season.
“I want to improve players,” Ascolese explained. “My goal is that they are better players on Nov. 2 than they were when they walked in on Aug. 18. I want us to stay in games. I want us to stay focused and in tune with a 90-minute game. I’d love for us to win one or more conference game. It’ll be challenging, but it’s doable.”
Ascolese said several players will help the team reach these goals. Senior Samantha Randall (Cortland, N.YHomer) (16 starts, one goals, one assist in 1012) will switch positions from center midfielder to outside midfielder. Senior defender Martha McGrath (Victor, NY/Victor), a former Empire 8 all-star and four-year starter for the Saxons, will anchor the team’s defensive line.
“Sam’s got the tools to be an effective outside midfielder,” said Ascolese. “She’s quick, she’s mobile, she’s incredibly fit and she’s vocal. She’s everything you’d want from a senior leader. Martha has the potential to a big a defensive presence. She’s a good organizer.”
Sophomore forward Mary Hendee (Almond, NY/Alfred-Almond) enters the season as the team’s leading returning scorer after recording 13 points on five goals and three assists in 2012.
“She has the potential to put the ball in the back of the net for us,” Ascolese said of Hendee. “She can have a breakout sophomore season. She’s got confidence and creativity.”
Senior Samijo Scheer (Corning, NY /East) returns as the team’s goalkeeper, after posting a 5-8 record in 2012, allowing 29 goals and recording 101 saves in 15 games, including 12 starts. Scheer will be looked on to provide vocal leadership to a young team that has and only four seniors on the roster.
“There’s not a person in the park that can’t hear Samijo when Samijo’s on the field,” said Ascolese. “That’s enormous. Samijo’s the eyes of the field because she’s the last player behind the ball. She’s an incredibly talented goalkeeper. She’s going to keep us in games.”
Other returnees include junior defender Nicole Lobur (Akron, NY/Akron) (16 starts in 2012) and junior forward Emily Heslop (Aurora, NY/Southern Cayuga) (16 games, two goals last year).
Ascolese said freshman center midfielder Marianna Crevison (Scottsville, NY/Wheatland-Chili) will be among a group of youngsters who will see significant playing time.
“She’s a 90-minute player,” Ascolese said of Crevison. “She’s a hard worker. She’s technical. She has good vision.”
Ascolese said the team has the technical and tactical ability to win games and that the players will need to demonstrate discipline, hard work and desire in order to have a successful season.
“If we’ve got some pride in our play and in the fact that we’re representing Alfred University, that’s the first step for this group of players,” she said. “We’re all on the same page. We want to win games. We want to be successful. You’re going to see a different brand of Alfred University soccer. It’s the foundation of big things to come.
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