The Goshen women’s soccer program went through a transition period this past offseason, highlighted by the hiring of Joel Gonzalez as the new head coach.

Gonzalez, an Evanston, Ill. native and 2007 Goshen College graduate, was hired after working last season as an assistant coach for the Maple Leafs under former coach Dale Stoltzfus. Prior to his time at Goshen, Gonzalez spent four years as an assistant coach at Goshen High School, and he also currently teaches Spanish at GHS.

Gonzalez was drawn to GC by friends from church and camp, but he was also intrigued by the opportunity to continue playing soccer as well as Goshen’s Study Service Term program.

When asked what his goals for the season were, Gonzalez answered, “We have been working hard the last couple years to do better in the conference and we hope to be in postseason play for the first time since 2007. Being high intensity has been a goal for us.”

Molly Zook, sophomore goalkeeper, has noticed the influx of energy in the program.

“There’s a lot of energy coming from the coaches. And it’s cool, since it’s a younger coaching staff, how they get out and work with us during practice and doing drills too.  And because it’s such a young group of coaches, they’re very humble but still aggressive for improvement.”

But even with a new energy, Gonzalez acknowledges the Leafs have things to work on.

“We are improving every day and learning from our mistakes. We have learned a lot from playing some good teams and are eager to start conference play this Saturday. I want to see us complete games. Sometimes we have played a good 50-70 minutes out of 90. We need to stay focused and composed when things aren’t going our way,” he said.

But even when times may be tough, the Maple Leafs are willing to adjust.

“We have tried out a couple different formations to see what works best. I have very much appreciated my players’ willingness to adjust and adapt to different positions/roles. I am always trying to make practice as competitive as possible. We have done a lot recently to keep our intensity up and the last couple practices have been great,” Gonzalez said.

The Maple Leafs open conference play on Saturday on the road against Marian University.