Jake Elmslie – Sports Editor
Christina Pirri has had much of her adult life defined by Rhode Island College women’s soccer. She started her career as a student-athlete at RIC in 2006 and after her graduation in 2010 joined the program as an assistant coach. She served in that role for another 5 years before finally, in 2015, becoming the head coach of the team. In her time as a player Coach Pirri was a part of the winningest team in RIC’s history and as such has an understanding of what it takes to succeed.
According to Coach Pirri the women’s soccer team is in the fourth year of what she’s defined as a rebuild. In her first year leading the team they won a measly three games. Since then they’ve reached the playoffs in back to back seasons, however, a postseason victory still eludes the team. Pirri hopes that the 2018 season will serve as the culmination of this rebuild and explained that “this is the first year I’ve felt like this is my team we’ve had four years of recruiting and we’ve built up a strong foundation in terms of skill.”
As she’s rebuilt the program Coach Pirri has focused on recruitment, culture and improving the teams skills. Immediately after taking over the program Coach Pirri turned her attention to resurrecting recruitment efforts at RIC that had died down in the years prior. Through this labor Coach Pirri has built up a core group of seniors and juniors that she hopes will lead the team to postseason success, a core that includes senior captains Brittany DeGrooth and Leah Gravel among seven other returning starters from 2017.
Over the last three years Coach Pirri has also worked to build up the skill level of the team. At the beginning of her tenure the team mainly employed a simple kick and run style of play. However after years of emphasising fundamentals and in her own words “the aspects of good soccer” the team now implements much more advanced concepts into their play style.
Finally Coach Pirri has worked to shift the culture of the program. This has included encouraging the atmosphere to be more competitive, instilling a sense of pride in the program and setting firm expectations for both individual players and the team as a whole. Also key has been an emphasis on individual responsibility and effort with Coach Perri believing that “effort is something that can’t be taught it’s something that has to be brought by each team member on a game to game basis.”
The women’s soccer season is already underway with the team holding a 1-2 record as of the writing of this article. When asked why RIC students should be excited about the team, Coach Pirri explained that “team is trying to create a new legacy for women’s soccer, we want to be a team RIC students can be proud of.” The team’s next home game will be on September 11th when the Anchorwomen face off against Bridgewater State University.