Oct. 31, 2011
Even though it was the 200th win of her career, women’s soccer head coach Alison Foley regards her team’s 2-0 victory over No. 7 Wake Forest on Oct. 28 as so much more than that.
To her, it was a key victory that moved the Eagles into fourth place in the ACC, securing home field advantage in the first round of the ACC Tournament. To her, it was the culmination of a successful season that saw the Eagles finish with a record of 11-4-2 (6-4-0 ACC).
“I thought it was their best game of the year,” Foley said. “The girls did a great job of making it a memorable win. It was a 200th win for me, but it was bigger than that. I’m happy that the group got that monumental win because it’s going to help them in the [NCAA] tournament.”
In short, beating one of the top teams in the country was a victory for the team as a whole, and Foley is also quick to give much of the credit for her success to the people she has worked with throughout the years.
“The people at BC really make the program and the success. The staff combined with the talented student-athletes is what really helps the program move forward and improve,” she noted.
But to say that Foley hasn’t played a pivotal role in the team’s success this year and over the 14 years leading up to this moment would be a mistake. Even as the teams have changed and assistants moved on, she has been a constant, pushing her players to be their best while bringing them together as a member of a family.
“When you love what you do, no matter what you do, you’re going to care about it and do your best at it,” Foley said. “I hope that I’ve been able to make people feel like they’re a valued member of the team, whether they’re playing or not. Everyone on the team is part of the BC soccer family, not just the program. That way, they understand it’s about more than just wins and losses: it’s about the team. They’ll care about the right things and work hard. This is what the program is really about.”
Much of Foley’s success has also rested on the high expectations she sets for her teams. When recruiting, she looks for players who are not only talented but also good people. She emphasizes that her players work as hard in the classroom as they do on the field. “The expectation has always been to be the best team and people we can be,” she explained.
“When she sees something and wants it, she’ll do anything to get it,” senior goalkeeper Jillian Mastroianni said. “She has high expectations for the team, herself and the coaching staff. She’ll push us to be the best we can be, and she’ll sacrifice a lot for it.”
That philosophy, coupled with being able to attract some of the premier talent in the nation, has helped Foley lead the Eagles to 10 NCAA Tournament berths, including eight in a row from 2004 to 2010. Still, sustained success like this is never a guarantee, and being able to win with different types of teams has been one of her strengths.
Described by Foley as having “more potential than any team [she’s] ever coached before,” the 2011 team is comprised of many different personalities and skill sets. A unique mix of freshman talent and veteran leadership, their progress from the start of the pre-season to the post-season was the biggest improvement Foley has ever seen. She’s enjoyed winning with this group because of their impressive growth over the course of the year and she says that her 200th win was first and foremost a great moment for the team and the senior class in particular.
For the senior class in particular, being a part of their coach’s historic milestone was special.
“We appreciate her, and she appreciates us,” Mastroianni noted. “We’re all really committed to winning, and we’re all really happy that she got her 200th win because it’s huge for her.”
And, as the class that contributed to BC’s first trip to the College Cup last year and the Elite Eight in 2010 and 2009, they’re motivated to have an “even more monumental” tournament by taking Foley to the championship game.
In the end, Foley will tell you, even the most prestigious individual accomplishments are ultimately the accomplishments of the entire family. If they can be used as a springboard for greater success of the team, then they’re that much more exceptional.
Written by Jen Dobias