Coach of the Year
Deb Raber looks back on an incredible season
The Trailblazers' women's soccer team concluded a remarkable season filled with incredible energy and enthusiasm by players and fans. Topping it off was the news that, for the second time, Coach Deb Raber was named MASCAC Coach of the Year. It's an honor she attributes to the team.
"They are 25 women who were willing to work hard every day and were willing to learn all I could teach them," Raber says. "Each of them was fighting for a starting position every single day, which created a competitive environment within."
She led the Trailblazers to a 13-4 regular season record, tying the school's record for the most wins in a single campaign. The Trailblazers finished the entire season 15-5-1, which included nine winning games and only one loss at home, much to the delight of those in attendance.
"It was the excitement of the campus itself and also throughout the community," says Raber. "People were so excited about the success of the team and followed us. It was definitely exciting to see that enthusiasm and support for the program."
The biggest challenge this year, she says, was figuring out who would be among the starting 11 players out on the field.
"Who could answer the call best when we needed it? No one person thought she was better than the next," Raber says. "They are all very down-to-earth people who saw the team as a whole instead of being concerned with their personal interests. One of our mantras throughout the season was that it takes all 25 players and three coaches on the same page to be successful."
One of those assistant coaches was Sara Miller '08, a veteran of the MCLA women's soccer program.
"Having her here for four years, she knew the inside stuff and how everything works. Her insight added to the dynamics and chemistry of the women," Raber says.
Also contributing to the team's chemistry was Jade Prickett '10 (above), whom Raber calls "an incredible leader and an amazing person both on and off the field."
"Her leadership really set the tone from day one," says Raber. "She completely bought into what our program is all about and for what we try to do. When you add a person of her stature and with her support of the coaches, that was one of the major factors in the cohesiveness of this team."
A turning point of the season was their game against Worcester State College.
"At that point, we had won five in a row and outworking each team we had played during that streak," Raber recalls. "We played a solid first half down in Worcester taking a 1-0 lead into the half. We had two goals called back and I think the women were a bit over-confident. Worcester came out like gang busters in the second half and completely out-worked us, ending up with a 2-1 win.
"It proved to be a great lesson for us," continues Raber. "We had the tools to get the job done, but Worcester simply worked harder than we did in the second 45 minutes."
The team followed that experience with an eight-game winning streak that allowed them to play for the regular season championship.