The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference voted to cancel all fall sports for the 2020 season as a result of the current public health crisis, meaning that all conference sponsored fall sports at Fairfield University will not be competing this season. This tumultuous time is difficult for any student-athlete, but for a team such as women’s soccer, who has welcomed a whopping total of eight first-years to the roster, the hiatus poses greater challenges. 

Welcomed to the lineup are Caroline Kelly, Marina Karalis, Angela Filosa, Maddie Kiely, Elle Scott, Sydney Corbett, Allie Kirby and Juliette Grasso. The class of 2024 is the first recruitment class that head coach David Barrett’s coaching staff has single-handedly selected since Barrett’s introduction to the Stags in 2018, making this group of women even more special.

Barrett’s major goal for this class is to reconstruct the philosophy of women’s soccer at Fairfield. His selection process is determined by two things: how players fit the overall objective of the program, which is to compete for championships, and finding people who best match up with his coaching-style and philosophy for wanting to play.

He noted that some advantages of having a younger group to coach is that he is essentially starting from the ground up with them, and they are really ambitious. A disadvantage is that these athletes are simply inexperienced. Without yet knowing the pressure of playing against collegiate-level competition and a truly rigorous game schedule, these women have a lot to learn.

“You take the good with the bad, but I think that the end result for us is that it’s an improvement in the overall quality of our roster–the overall quality of our soccer playing abilities,” said Barrett. “We are willing to live with inexperience mistakes because I think we will have a lot of good soccer pieces that are out there too,” he confidently continued.

Barrett implored that the idea behind his approach to recruiting is to choose every athlete with the underlying motivation to grow the program and make the team better. 

“The only thing that we set out for every year is to recruit players who are, in theory, better than the ones we have now,” he explained. 

Such a tactic represents Barrett’s winning mentality, which is one sure to inspire the rookies. 

“If we’re always pushing that envelope, the level of competition improves, which makes the quality of the learning environment better, and makes the overall team environment better.”

Barret doesn’t have any different expectations from this specific group of girls over any other athlete on the team regarding performance, but is extremely excited to welcome and get to know these new Stags. 

His focus right now is doing what he can to ease the anxieties of these new additions, as they are feeling nervousness from both ends of the aisle, navigating a new school environment while also being thrown into a new athletic environment. Both Barrett and his assistant coach, Megan Burke, are working to help these Stags get their feet on the ground and feel as comfortable and confident as they can, given the limitations imposed upon them. 

“There’s a lot that these new people are experiencing, and we’re not trying to throw a lot at them from a soccer perspective beyond getting them acclimated to the intensity of what we’re trying to accomplish and getting them confident in who they are,” said Barrett.

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