The Long Island Rough Riders women’s team hopes to begin the 2019 United Women’s Soccer season the way they concluded the 2018 one.
Plagued by inconsistency for most of last summer, the Rough Riders won their final three games to make a last-ditch push for the playoffs, falling just short. Long Island opens its 2019 campaign against Connecticut Fusion on Saturday, May 11.
Kickoff is 5:30 p.m. from Hofstra University Soccer Stadium.
“We’ve talked about getting off to a good start and being consistent throughout the season,” head coach Karim Diallo said. “I think the players also know we had a team last year that should’ve been in the playoffs so I think they have been getting themselves mentally ready to compete from the start.”
The Rough Riders come into this summer season more settled than last year. Diallo was named coach a week before the season began and the season opener against New Jersey Copa FC was postponed due to rain. Long Island won two of its first seven contests before finishing the season strong by outscoring opponents 13-3 in three wins.
“It is a bit easier for me now that I know pretty much all the players and how to better use them,” Diallo said. “We are excited to start the season and hopefully on a better note than we did last season.”
Like the men’s USL League Two team, the women’s team has seen its fair share of roster turnover.
Diallo is pleased to see veterans including captain Kim Marra, Alexa Schneider, Melissa Guglielmo, Taylor Groth, Allyson Baner and Kaitlin Loughren suiting up again this season. He’ll rely on them to help new faces get acclimated quickly.
“Adding new faces to our roster makes us deeper on the bench and is also a challenge to the returning players to step it up as no spot is guaranteed,” he said. “Every week should be a battle on the practice field which would only make us better as a whole. We have also added a few veterans with experience who will be great for our locker room and will help us on the field.”
BY: Michael LoRé