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In the Spotlight: Women's Soccer Head Coach Justine Lombardi

August 22nd marks a significant milestone in the history of St. Francis College: that's the date that the inaugural Women's Soccer Team takes the field for its first game, a home opener against Lafayette (see schedule here). The road to the soccer field at Brooklyn Bridge Park was largely paved by Justine Lombardi, who took on the challenge last September of assembling a group of athletes for the first-year squad. Coach Lombardi spent the better part of the past year making the case to soccer stand-outs across the country (and overseas) that St. Francis is the best home for them. Twenty-four signed on to play under the Terrier banner. As she prepares to start team practices next week, Coach Lombardi spoke about her journey to St. Francis and looked back on the past ten months. How did you make your way to St. Francis College? I was looking to make a change from Quinnipiac [University, in Hamden, Connecticut]. I'd played soccer there [as a student] and returned there as coach for six years. I was looking to make a move. I was open to lots of opportunities. I saw this one pop up on the NCAA website and was of course really excited about it. It just seemed like such a cool opportunity...[St. Francis] offered me this job and it was a no brainer for me. How was it moving from Connecticut to New York City? It took a little bit of adjusting. I actually ended up finding a pretty good space and it wasn't too big of a culture shock for me. Now that I know my way around, I absolutely love it. It's great. You came on board last September. Was your first year focused on recruiting? Yes, entirely. That was obviously the most important thing, because we can plan and lay out everything else, but if there's no team, then nothing exists...Women's soccer is a huge sport nowadays. There are plenty of very, very good players out there. I was very pleasantly surprised with the number of players who were still available and not committed to other schools. [The issue was] was finding the right fit for me. I have a unique coaching style and personality. I want to bring in players who relate well to me, who are going to have good chemistry with each other, who fit the values of the school, [and who are] going to get along with and support the other athletics teams here. [That's part of the] culture that they've [the Athletics Department] built here, which I love. The players who signed are amazing and exactly what I wanted. Did you recruit a lot of players from the New York City area? I've got one from Long Island, one from Staten Island, three from Brooklyn. Those are my only New York players. The rest are from all over. Five are from California. So that was another very, very pleasant surprise that I had in the recruiting process. Everybody wants to come to New York. Everybody loves New York City.

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