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Volume 77, Number 19 | October 10 - 16, 2007


N.Y.U. forward Laura Palumbo is known for her explosive speed and nose for the goal.

N.Y.U. women’s soccer strikes it big with Palumbo

By Judith Stiles

In soccer, for any striker — whose job is to score goals — it can be utterly unnerving, sometimes paralyzing, to be double- or triple-teamed by opponents. Add on a little sneaky shirt-pulling, elbowing or hip-checking when the referee isn’t looking, and a striker can become really frustrated, downright rattled. 

Werner T. Dasbach, new head coach of the New York University women’s soccer team, gives clever coaching advice to his forwards when they find themselves being swarmed by chippy opponents. 

“I tell my players it is kind of like battling traffic on the way to LaGuardia Airport when you’re in a hurry,” says Dasbach, better known to his players as Das. “A creative taxi driver will explore the possibilities, find the solution and take a different road. The bottom line is you want to get to La Guardia first.”

His assistant coach, Jen Meyerson, adds her own Zen-style advice when she says, “Find the stillness in the chaos. It helps to see clearly, focus and find that split-second opening.”

This fall the newly energized N.Y.U. women’s soccer team boasts more than eight freshmen rounding out the team, including players from Hawaii, California, Texas, Vermont and Minnesota, as well as the metropolitan area.  Since the season began for this Division III team, they have totally turned around last year’s dismal showing. They currently have an outstanding record of 10 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie, and are 1-1 in University Athletic Association matches. 

Emerging as one of the Violets’ top performers is one of New York City’s most accomplished former high school players, Laura Palumbo, who grew up playing soccer in our local Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League. She began her long journey toward N.Y.U. as the leading scorer for Fontbonne Academy in Brooklyn, and she was a standout on the C.J.S.L. Girls Select Team, the Brooklyn Celtics and the Super Y League Metoval Brooklyn Knights team. 

“She has always had a nose for the goal and great speed,” says Paddy O’Sullivan, coach of the Brooklyn Celtics.

Having been an “A” student in high school at Fontbonne Academy, Palumbo met the rigorous academic standards for admission to N.Y.U. But, like most freshmen, she expected to be more of a bench warmer her first year on the team. However, when she was subbed into the game in the U.A.A. opener against Case Western University at Gaelic Park in Riverdale, Palumbo stunned the fans when she tallied two goals and dished out two assists. Her game-winning goal came in the 26th minute when she scored off a spectacular corner kick by sophomore Lucy Dolly Caires.

The Violets not only won the game 4-0, but they had their first U.A.A. victory since 2005. Because of Palumbo’s terrific performance, the team eclipsed their own record from last fall when they only scored three goals in seven U.A.A. matches. As a result, this season Palumbo has twice been honored by being named U.A.A. Athlete of the Week.

The N.Y.U. women’s soccer team is now ranked No. 19 by d3kicks.com and is on a roll with Coach Das at the helm. 

“I encourage everyone to play with courage, to love the game, respect the game, and to take chances on the field,” he says.

With only six regular-season matches left, on Fri., Oct. 12, N.Y.U. and Palumbo will play Washington University in a match that has been dubbed a “Tear It Up” event at the Manhattan College field in Riverdale at 1:30 p.m. This game will be a good one to watch for all the budding little girl soccer players who dream of playing at the college level, to perk up and pay attention to the path that Palumbo has taken to get there.

After all, less than a decade ago, she started kicking the ball around and got hooked on soccer, just like millions of little girls around the country with their own big dreams.

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