ALBANY — Laurie Darling Gutheil maintains high standards for her players on the College of Saint Rose women’s soccer team, both on and off the field.
It’s a big reason that the Golden Knights, in Darling Gutheil’s 25 years as head coach, have piled up 370 wins, 15 NCAA Division II national tournament appearances and the 2011 national championship — all while maintaining excellence in the classroom.
“We have a very rigorous level of expectations for preparing our teams to be their very best and reach their highest potential,” Darling Gutheil said in a phone interview, “both individually and collectively, and play an outstanding brand of soccer. That’s something we have a tremendous passion for and we invest so much of ourselves into growing our players and providing them with an environment that strives for excellence in each of these facets.”
Those high standards are the reason that Saint Rose became one of just nine college soccer teams in the country — men or women — to earn a United Soccer Coaches Team Pinnacle Award for the 2019-20 academic year.
To receive consideration for the award — which is in its second year — a team must have earned the Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze version of the Team Ethics and Sportsmanship Award, been a recipient of the Team Academic Award and finished the season with a winning percentage of .750 or higher.
Saint Rose went 21-3-1 in 2019, including a 10-2-1 mark in the Northeast-10 Conference, and reached the semifinals of the NCAA Division II national tournament, falling to Grand Valley State in the semifinals. The Golden Knights also received the Team Academic Award for a 12th consecutive season.
It’s a testament, Darling Gutheil said, to the accountability within the program that spreads from the coaching staff to the players.
“They hold each other to that highest level of achievement,” she said. “They’re very dedicated, they’re very mature, they have tremendously high aspirations and they work incredibly hard to achieve them.”
The national semifinal loss to Grand Valley State snapped a 10-game winning streak that included the final three games of the regular season, three wins en route to an NE-10 conference tournament title and four NCAA tournament victories. During that streak, the Golden Knights outscored their opposition 28-9.
Nina Predanic led an attack that averaged nearly three goals per game, leading the Golden Knights with both 20 goals and 17 assists. Predanic is now playing professionally in Austria and took the field last Friday in Moscow for the Slovenian women’s national team as part of qualifying for the Euro 2022 tournament. She was one of a number of international players on Saint Rose’s 2019 team that also included players from Canada, Germany, Finland, Serbia and Bermuda.
“We blend a lot of talent locally and nationally with international talent,” Darling Gutheil said.
The common theme that binds the program together is commitment.
“We’ve got a lot to be proud of,” Darling Gutheil said. “There’s just a lot of real good, positive accomplishments, and it takes a lot of hard work. It takes a tremendous amount of dedication, but it’s all worth it.”