Saint Rose women's soccer mentally ready for Final Four match – Times Union

The Saint Rose women’s soccer team holds the East Region trophy aloft after a 3-0 win over Mercy. They play in a Final Four match on Thursday.
Lexi Grassia of Saint Rose, center, battles with Concord’s Michelle Brogden for the ball during their Division II NCAA Tournament quarterfinal on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. Grassia had the game-winner to send the Golden Knights to the Final Four.
After not playing a full season in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Saint Rose women’s soccer is back where it was in 2019: the Final Four of the  Division II NCAA Tournament.
The Golden Knights will take on No. 5 seed Dallas Baptist at 4 p.m. Thursday, at Switchbacks FC Stadium in Colorado.
In their latest Final Four appearance, the Golden Knights fell 3-2 to Grand Valley State. St. Rose coach Laurie Darling Gutheil attributed the loss to nerves felt by a young squad without experience playing on a national stage.
“Our players really weren’t emotionally as confident, secure in their ability at the start of that game,” she said.
Grand Valley built a 2-0 lead in the first half before Saint Rose settled in during the second half, scoring two goals to stay in the game.
“If there were 10 more minutes than we had, we probably would have had no issue tying the game up and winning in overtime because they mentally were breaking in the second half,” Darling Gutheil said.
This year is different. The Golden Knights return a number of players from the 2019 team, including goalkeeper Marika Laurendeau, who has recorded 68 saves this season.
“We were nervous for the entire first half, and this is probably what cost us the game, to be honest,” Laurendeau said. “I think we got caught a little bit by surprise, but this year we won’t let that happen.”
She and the other older players have spent the season teaching their younger teammates what it takes to perform on a national stage and how to handle the accompanying nerves.
“Even when times get rough or when we get nervous, they help us and let us know that they’re there to support us and everything is going to be OK,” freshman Jada Brown said.
To top the Patriots, the Golden Knights need to play disciplined defense and have “relentless pressure” on offense, Darling Gutheil said.
And if 2019 taught the Golden Knights anything, it’s the importance of being tough mentally.
“You have to step on that field and know that you are the better team and your confidence has to be there,” Brown said.
When: 4 p.m. Thursday
Where: Switchbacks FC Stadium, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Abigail Rubel covers UAlbany men’s and women’s basketball and other high school, college and professional sports. She also writes the Getting There column answering reader questions and covering local transportation issues. Abigail previously reported for the Voice of America and New York Family magazine. She graduated from Columbia University in 2019. You can reach her at


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