While the official soccer season doesn’t begin until August, the women’s soccer team plays a spring schedule of scrimmages to prepare. Under first-year head coach Lauren Calabrese’s direction, the team has been using the time to get back to the basics and to spark conversations about leadership and inclusion.
Calabrese said the team has been attending workshops with Lehigh’s Center for Gender Equity and the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity to prioritize cultivating team trust and establishing consistent language and communication.
Calabrese said the goal of the spring season is not necessarily to change the program but rather to stay on the track they are on.
“I hope to continue creating meaningful experiences for our bright, motivated and ambitious players,” Calabrese said. “I’m super excited in terms of our ability to be competitive, but also in our ability to impact our community as well.”
Junior Ryelle Shuey said Calabrese has been doing an excellent job using Lehigh’s organizations to make an impact.
Calabrese is a 2007 Lehigh women’s soccer alum and joined the team as an assistant coach in 2016. Calabrese became the head coach in January of this year after 12-year head coach Eric Lambinus left the team to join Lehigh’s Financial Office.
“I think it’s exactly what our program needed in terms of development, in terms of her role, in terms of players and she is a fresh face in terms of being a woman for our coaching program,” junior Julianna Bonner said.
Calabrese has also been trying to implement a plan to improve the team’s practice fields before preseason in the fall of 2022 begins, using donations from their March Mania fundraiser.
Lehigh donors gave $895,000 to Lehigh athletic programs on March 29-30 throughout the course of the fundraiser. The women’s soccer program raised $17,100.
Bonner said as an alumna, Calabrese used her connections to assist in the fundraising effort.
“She is doing a really great job of cultivating a strong environment for our program’s future,” Bonner said.
As the first spring season since pre-COVID-19, this season has been new to many of the players on the team.
Calabrese said the goal for the spring season is to win games, but it’s also about the process and the habits the team is creating.
“I’ve been very impressed with the way the women have taken ownership and worked together,” Calabrese said.
Calabrese has been emphasizing making quick passes and taking advantage of the midfield this spring. She said an important part of the spring season is taking risks and understanding what it means to navigate moments of adversity.
“We don’t want to be intimidated or taken back by particular situations,” Calabrese said.
Shuey said a major goal for the upcoming fall season is to win the Patriot League Championship.
The Mountain Hawks beat both St. Joes and Seton Hall 1-0 in their first two spring scrimmages and lost to Penn State 3-1 in their third.
Lehigh’s remaining games in the spring are against Temple on April 16 and Kutztown on April 22. The spring alumni game is on April 30.