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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Goalkeepers step up for women’s soccer

Cuccio (left) and Perrott (right) have held opponents to 0.83 goals against per game this season. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/ THE HAWK

Following the graduation of all time wins leader, Grace Bendon ’19, the women’s soccer team has found not one, but two keepers to take her place. Senior Cameron Perrott and freshman Emily Cuccio have both stepped up to fill the void left behind in the Hawk’s net.

Head Coach Jess Mannella said she hasn’t decided who she will settle on as the starter but will evaluate it one game at a time based on the matchups and who has the hot hand.

“It’s going to be a game-to-game decision, so when someone’s hot they’re hot,” Mannella said. “So Em has played two in a row and got two wins but Cam’s right there and is a senior and a leader. It doesn’t make my job easier.”

Perrott and Cuccio have complementary styles on the field where, according to Mannella. Perrott’s leadership and experience allow her to be more in sync with the defense, while Cuccio’s length allows her to attack crosses and corner more.

Although Bendon has left her spot as keeper, she has not moved far away and she is now working as an assistant coach on the team, helping Perrott and Cuccio transition into their new roles.

“Grace was a captain and a leader from the beginning so the transition was pretty easy,” Mannella said. “Cam and Grace were training partners so they were already close friends.”

A similar bond has formed between Cuccio and Perrott as both have embraced the competition and have found ways to push each other.

“We never have a bad day at practice,” Cuccio said. “If someone’s having a bad day we stop and get our composure and we most of all try to have a good time.”

As goalies, both Perrot and Cuccio have to be the vocal leaders on the field, not only ensuring everyone is in the right spot physically, but also in the right place mentally.

“We talk a lot about how we have to play in the now,” Perrott said. “If you let up a goal you can’t dwell on it. You can’t change anything that’s passed. You just have to keep going forward.”

Cuccio received the Atlantic 10 Women’s Soccer Rookie of the Week after earning her first collegiate victory in a 1-0 win over Stony Brook University. Mannella said this has served as a confidence booster for the young keeper.

Cuccio initially had committed to James Madison University while playing for Morris County School of Technology in New Jersey. After the coach at JMU left and St. Joe’s lost sophomore goalie Asia Whittenberger to concussions, Hawk Hill became a natural fit.

“I had done a camp here and it just kind of felt like a good vibe and I said if anything ever fell through with JMU I would give it another look,” Cuccio said. “When it did, I called [Associate Head Coach] Fred [King] and everything fell into place.”

Those good vibes were similar to what Perrott felt when she first visited Hawk Hill and were one of the reasons why she came.

“We focus more on being a family than just a team,” Perrott said. “And it makes the atmosphere so much better. You get to come out every day, and we’re with our 28 best friends.”

This family atmosphere is one that Mannella said she works on fostering and has allowed for an easier transition between goalkeepers. Both of the goalies try to stay locked into the games regardless of who is in the net.

“We focus a lot on the bench being in the game,” Mannella said “We’re one whole team, it’s not like one team on the field and one on the bench. We try to stay engaged and cheer each other on.”

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