Season Opens with Away Game Aug. 30 vs. Patrick Henry
The College of Southern Maryland’s (CSM) women’s soccer team kicks off its season Thursday, Aug. 30 by traveling to take on Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia. The Hawks’ Head Coach Nina Duron, who is excited to get the season under way, has been pleased with her team’s performance thus far.
“They have done really well in their pre-season,” Duron said. “They have blossomed a whole lot in the past couple of weeks.”
The women’s soccer team debuts a new coaching staff this season starting with Duron, who is taking on the reigns as head coach for her first time. She will be joined by Gary Knight, who was an assistant for the Hawks’ men’s soccer team last year, and first-year assistant Marissa Hill.
Duron’s soccer background consists of playing from the time she was a youth to playing goalie at Hood College. After her playing days, she continued to be involved in the game that she loves by coaching club soccer, a few years at King George High School and then as an assistant with the Hawks last fall.
With only one returning starter on the roster, Duron is eager to face the challenge of developing a new roster of student athletes and encouraging a winning culture.
“The players are all really fresh,” said Duron. “It can be both positive and negative because they don’t have the balance of experiences like other colleges are going to bring, but I get to start with a clean slate. I can get them ready for what I have experienced, and for me it’s the joy of being able to pick my own players, adapt those players, and bring them together.”
Duron sees player development as foundational for any program, and her assistants are on board in leading this success with this season’s players.
“Player development is key; it’s the key to everything in life,” said Knight, who has over 25 years of coaching soccer athletes, from youth through college level. “My job is to recognize deficiencies in players and work with those deficiencies in those players to make a more-sound player, sound team, and with that will come the wins.”
Due to the various skill levels of each individual athlete, Hill agrees that player development will be critical for the Hawks this season. “Definitely huge,” said Hill, who most recently coached at King George High School. “(Player development) is definitely a big part we have to work on this season because we have all different levels of skill out there.”
Hill added, “It’s possible to get everyone to a place working together for the success of the team. They may not all be at the same skill level, but they all will be at a level where they can be successful together.”
Some of the expectations Duron has for the Hawks this season are to be intense and relentless.
“I want to set the expectation of intensity—that we are never giving up,” Duron said. “A big thing on researching the college and younger age groups is the intensity is lacking. When they get tired, they just stop. I want to push that boundary to where I want my (players) to know not to give up, and keep pushing until they hit that wall.”
A positive mindset is part of the philosophy that Duron ascribes to her coaching, and she has envisioned for CSM’s soccer team to be a successful program. “I’m big on coaching on the positives,” said Duron. “I feel like, especially with women, you get a lot further with them and they give you a lot more when you give out more on the positives and not so much on the negatives. There is a better way to approach the weaknesses, and it can be done in a positive manner – the players feel you have their back and that you believe in them.”
In support of this expectation, Hill said she will be looking to provide “that positive motivation to show that they are capable to pushing themselves further than they realize.”
“I definitely see a winning season,” Hill added. “Not going undefeated, but have a winning season because these girls are definitely capable of that.”
To have a winning season as well as a successful program, the staff will value the importance of patience.
“Patience, and understanding,” says Knight. “(Duron) is very knowledgeable and I’m sure she’ll be very patient and understanding. There’s a certain level (of play) that we are both looking for and there’s a certain level of player that we are looking for now. I don’t think we are quite where we need to be, so my advice would be to be patient.”
Duron understands that fully.
“We are going to take the season one day at a time,” said Duron. “I don’t like basing things off of last year because the game, any given day can be a different game. You just never know what the other team can be bringing to the table or what we bring to the table. I am going to try and take it day-by-day and game-by-game, and not so much that my girls get caught up in strengths of other teams. We are just going to come out and bring their best.”
The Hawks will take the field at Patrick Henry College on Thursday. Face-off starts at 4 p.m.
For information on athletics and team schedules at CSM, visit www.csmd.edu/athletics.