By Emma Davies
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
On November 6, 2022 the Niagara’s women's soccer team concluded their year competing vs Quinnipiac at the MAAC Conference tournament finals in Hamden, Connecticut.
The women's soccer team at Niagara University has been led by Coach Peter Veltri for 22 years now, and assisted by Coach Donny George for the past two seasons. The team consists of 33 women, from all over the world ranging from our neighboring country Canada, to across the water to Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands.
The women's soccer season kicks off each year at the beginning of August and runs through typically until late October, early November.
As the University is getting back into the swing of things, recovering from COVID-19 and trying to restore normalcy on campus, the women's soccer team is looking forward to seeing more familiar faces at their home games.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions on campus restricted lots of eager fans from supporting the team as well as all teams on campus and across the NCAA.
Team members as well as assistant coach Donny George had plenty to say about how an energetic Niagara fan base makes a positive impact on team performance.
Here is how the University/Niagara Community can make support not only the women’s soccer team, but all D1 and club teams on campus:
√ Pick a sport that you will cheer on for the semester
√ Create a fanbase with your friends/classmates for the team or a specific player
√ Make your presence known at games, cheer on your peers!
√ Show support to your athletes on campus, before and after games
Rising sophomore, Maia MacLean expresses her thoughts on what the University and the Niagara Community can do to help her succeed in the best way possible next season.
“Since I have had 2 years of experience, I already see a big change in the community to help our team become better and win a ring. From my freshmen year we lost in the quarters and then after this year we lost in finals, but we have more fan support behind us. We also now have access to utilize top tier facilities to make ourselves successful for next season. The Kieran center will for sure benefit our recovery for next season, and that is something I am very excited for.”
When asked what she is looking forward to most in the upcoming season, she replied with “I am super excited to build a new team and atmosphere especially losing so many girls. We are going to have a talented team next year and I am super excited to see what it has for us next season. It is most likely going to be a young team, and I think with that, the team is going to be really fit and talented. I believe we will go just as far hopefully farther than we did this year”
Soccer is one of the biggest sports in the world and requires teamwork not individuality. Thus, fans have a huge influence on the game and how a team performs.
Fans traveled as far as 8 hours to watch and support the team as they played for the MAAC Championship ring.
Mia Palango, a senior psychology student and major contribution to the team, dives into how fans and more specifically NU fans, influence her performance.
“Having fans at our events always makes a huge difference in performance. When you can hear everyone cheering you and your team on, it completely changes the whole environment and provides you with the energy you need to play hard. When teams like men's soccer come out and are banging on the drums and you can hear them cheer, the whole vibe of the atmosphere changes and it lifts you up. Often when you make a big tackle in a game, or a great pass, and score a goal and you can hear the fans cheering, it makes you want to do it again”
What the Niagara fans can do at games to enhance player performance:
√ Be present
√ Wear Niagara gear and rep the school colors
√ Bring noise makers, make it loud!
√ With that loud noise, make it positive
√ Stay the entirety of the game, win or lose
The overall expectations for the team lie in the hands of the players, the coaches, and importantly the school spirit and fans.
Assistant coach Donny George also weighs in on how much fans impact the game.
“My biggest suggestion would be consistent support. Our home field is electric when supporters join us for games, the atmosphere really helps our girls defend their home turf. This place can be like a fortress and usually is a difficult place for other teams to take points from us. I know the girls recall the big home games with lots of fans, and I’m confident they will never forget them.
Support from fans has a big impact not only on the game itself but contributes to creating lasting memories for the girls that they may have forever.”
This upcoming season is full of optimism for the young aspiring team and with the help of the University and the community, the Niagara women's soccer team has potential to achieve something special.
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