Women's soccer Head Coach Scott Leacott at a practice in October 2020. As of Oct. 5, Rowan athletic teams can start having practices that follow the new COVID-19 guidelines. - Photo / Rowan Athletics

Fall sports teams at Rowan University can finally start practicing again, and that includes the women’s soccer team.

Starting Oct. 5, Rowan athletic teams have been permitted to resume practices while adhering to social distancing guidelines. This allows for valuable preparation as the chance of a combined fall and spring sports season draws closer.

For Head Coach Scott Leacott, this preparation will help determine the performance and possibilities for his squad going forward.

For his first few practices, Leacott opted for a gradual approach that would allow his players to ease back into typical activities.

To accommodate COVID-19 safety guidelines, Leacott had the roster split up into distanced groups of 10, with drills focusing on technical skills, ball work and shooting. No contact is allowed just yet with the current climate, but players are optimistic.

“Honestly, we’re all just happy to be back on the field at this point,” Leacott said. “It’s unfortunate that we’re missing out on the full intensity and competitive spirit of a regular practice, because usually you would have everyone playing their hearts out to earn playing time. However, it’s a step in the right direction.”

Before the official delay of the season, Leacott got a chance to evaluate his roster in August and he was very pleased with the results. In regards to their fitness, he confidently characterized it as “first class” and indicated that they were more than prepared to handle the intensity of a full 90-minute match.

Unfortunately, this level of fitness could not be sustained as Leacott encouraged his players to prioritize their health and safety over their conditioning. Despite this significant setback and the challenge of navigating a season during a pandemic, he remains positive about his team’s chances going forward.

“This is a very talented team, and the difference between this year and last year is we have tremendous depth,” he said. “Injuries killed us through the first four games and really limited what we could do. This time around, our depth will be crucial in maintaining a consistent quality of play. As for COVID-19, things are so uncertain right now and can change at a moment’s notice. That’s why our mantra is to take our journey one day at a time and to focus on what we can control.”

As it stands, all the pieces are in place for Leacott’s squad to make a deep postseason run. Ultimately, it comes down to two things: their performance and the status of the pandemic.

While the former can be controlled and elevated to the proper level, the latter remains unpredictable and Leacott urges all to “keep their fingers crossed.”

Hopefully with enough crossed fingers, the talent, fitness, determination and depth of the Rowan women’s soccer team will get the opportunity to shine next spring.

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