Vol. LXI, No. 38
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
HALL MONITOR: Esmeralda Negron (No. 23) chases after the ball as she helped the Princeton University women's soccer team advance to the 2004 NCAA Final Four. Negron, a 2005 PU grad and the program's all-time leader in points (112) and goals (47) recently started her coaching career as an assistant with the Seton Hall women's soccer team.
As the Seton Hall women's soccer team recently kicked off its season, it almost got an extra reinforcement from the sideline.
Straining to contain herself, new Pirate assistant coach Esmeralda Negron, a former All-American at Princeton University, had visions of racing on the pitch to help her charges.
"It was rewarding to see their effort and how they followed our plan," said Negron, reflecting on her coaching debut. "At times, I did want to jump out there."
While Negron, a 2005 Princeton grad isn't through playing, jumping into coaching was a no-brainer.
"I was playing in Germany and my longtime coach and mentor Kazbek Tambi had just gotten the head job at Seton Hall," recalled Negron, who also played a season in France after graduation.
"I had thought about getting into coaching at some point after my playing days but I thought I couldn't pass up this opportunity."
Tambi's deep influence on Negron helped her blossom into one of the greatest players in Princeton history and a driving force in the Tigers' run to the 2004 NCAA Final Four.
"Kaz played a tremendous role in my development," said Negron, a native of Harrington Park, N. J., who holds the Princeton records in career points (112) and goals (47).
"I was going to his soccer camp six weeks every summer and I trained with him while I was at Princeton. He had me playing against premier boys and that competition really helped me when I was playing with the girls. He always had such confidence in me. When I would be frustrated, he would say 'your time is coming, just keep training as hard as you can.'"
Princeton head coach Julie Shackford also had a major influence on Negron's approach to the game. "I think Julie was great in recognizing my strengths and what I could do," said Negron.
" She allowed me to play my style and be creative. She instilled a really competitive notion in me. If I was not playing my best, she would get on me. She didn't accept less than 100 percent."
These days, Negron is getting to flash her skills on the pitch with her players during Seton Hall practice sessions.
"I play in all the scrimmages," said Negron, who believes she will soon have an option to play professionally in the U.S. as the now-defunct WUSA pro league is trying to get back in business. "It's real hands on. It's good for the girls to have a higher level player out there."
Negron still fondly recalls her amazing senior campaign which saw the forward pile up a program single season record of 52 points on 20 goals and 12 assist as the Tigers went 19-3.
"I think about what made us so special that season," said Negron, the Ivy League Player of the Year in both her junior and senior seasons.
"I think we were a little cocky; we set the bar high. Things just came together on and off the field."
Negron's experience playing in Europe helped her realize how special that team was.
"I gained an appreciation for the camaraderie on a team," said Negron, who played for the Oise Compiegne team in France before moving on to FFC Brauweiler Pulheim Kohn in Germany.
"I was really on my own that first year in France; I had to deal with the adversity of not knowing the language. In Germany, the language was not a problem because a lot of people speak English there. The style of play there is more physical and I got to play against members of the German national team. It was great to play against competition like that."
Negron, for her part, is trying to instill a special level of competitiveness in her Seton Hall players.
"I want to make sure that they set high goals," asserted Negron, who has helped the Pirates get off to a 3-2-1 start. "I expect nothing less than their best in every game. They need to be going out there ready to play to the best of their ability."
If the Seton Hall players can maximize their potential like Negron, the Pirates could achieve some major goals.
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