by Jamie Hehir
Photos by Anna Grande
For the 2018 season, the Hilbert women’s soccer program parted ways with Coach Kelly Starchok and welcomed new Head Coach Donald Herlan.
Herlan decided to make his new home here at Hilbert, feeling that it was a good fit switching from a Division I program to our Division III program, he said.
“Division I is a different thing,” Herlan said. “It’s not much fun to coach Division I. It’s very cut-throat when you have scholarship athletes and they get renewed just one year at a time. There’s pressure on coaches to win games and recruit and if you don’t win games you might be out.” The stresses of maintaining a record and appearance can often affect players and coaching staff causing a disconnect, which frustrated Herlan, he said. Herlan also said the campus of schools like the University at Buffalo are not as appealing as smaller schools like Hilbert.
“Even the campuses are cold and impersonal,” Herlan said. “Someplace smaller and friendlier you get to coach more and teach more. If what you like to do is teach and have good relationships on the team then you’re disappointed (at a Division 1 school). I was disappointed.”
The team has struggled this year, starting off with a 0-8-0 record. Coach Herlan attributed the team’s slow start, to being shorthanded.
“The overlying obvious problem is that it’s a small roster,” Herlan said “There were folks on the roster last year that didn’t return, there was unhappiness last year that came over from people who didn’t get along last year to this year.”
Constant injury also played a hand in this season’s struggles.
“We haven’t had more than 12 or 13 people healthy at the same time,” Herlan said. “Every time I feel we’re about to get someplace somebody else goes off, gets injured, one of the better players goes down. We haven’t had a full roster of 15 players yet, not even close. So that’s made it pretty hard.”
As the season continues to advance Herlan is working to use his team’s strengths to his advantage and work on their weaknesses for future seasons to come.
“We’re strong up the middle of the field,” Herlan said. “The weaker parts are just technique on the ball and possession. There’s not enough technically sound people to where you don’t have to worry about, ‘Oh boy. I really can’t pass it here or the ball, the plays going to die right here.’ Load up the defense you got no attack, move some people at the attack, you’ll lose by seven,” he added
Despite the team’s losing record Herlan remains optimistic.
“I can say I’ve looked at the first six games based on last year and based on our own roster that we were gonna get any of the first six but there’s a couple later in the year that we got a chance to get,” he said.
The next home game – the senior day game – is Saturday October 13th at 2 p.m.