Finding a Home With TCNJ Women’s Soccer, PHS Grad Bodden Excited for Sophomore Season
LION-HEARTED: Haley Bodden dribbles the ball upfield in action last fall during her freshman season for The College of New Jersey women’s soccer team. Former Princeton High standout Bodden, who tallied four goals during her debut campaign in 17 appearances, is currently in preseason camp at TCNJ in preparation for her sophomore season with the Lions. (Photo Courtesy of TCNJ Athletic Communications)
As Haley Bodden developed into a star for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team, she set her sights on playing for a Division I program at the next level.
But when that ambition wasn’t realized, Bodden visited The College of New Jersey, a Division III power, in the summer after her junior year at PHS and realized she didn’t need to leave Mercer County to enjoy a positive college soccer experience.
“I just thought about it and decided I would be happier,” said Bodden. “I am close to home and the team seemed to be a good fit for me. It is not like D-I, which is very intense. It is in between because we are a good D-III team. I guess everything happens for a reason because I love playing D-III now.”
But when Bodden hit the field for the preseason practices last August with the Lions, things didn’t seem quite right.
“I started getting sick in the second week of preseason and I didn’t know what was wrong with me,” said Bodden.
“I thought it was just an adjustment to college. I was sick all season. I didn’t know what it was until after the season ended when I found out it was mono.”
Playing through illness, Bodden still had a memorable freshman season, starting with an early season clash against Johns Hopkins last September.
“Hopkins was a very intense game because they were very good,” said Bodden.
“We didn’t win but getting in the game was amazing. I didn’t play that long; it was just exciting to be on the field with such good players and the crowd and everything. It was different than high school, I liked it more.”
One of the most exciting moments for Bodden came when she scored her first college goal in a 7-0 win over William Paterson in mid-September.
“It was great to score, it was honestly amazing,” said Bodden. “As a freshman scoring, everyone was cheering me on.”
As her freshman season went on, Bodden developed a more sophisticated approach to the game.
“I played defensive center mid, it gave me a chance to see the field as a whole and make more plays,” said Bodden, who ended up with four goals in 17 appearances.
“The coaches always stress how if the defense plays to the forwards, I have to be right there underneath them and support them so they can just play the way they are facing instead of having to turn on the defender. If they play to me, I can switch the field or I can play another forward through.”
After sitting out most of the team’s spring training in the wake of the mono diagnosis, Bodden has thrown herself into a rigorous training regimen this summer.
“I have been training every day; I have been working out every day,” said Bodden, who did some workouts with her Princeton Soccer Association club team.
“My TCNJ team had captains practices because everyone lives so close so we do that Mondays and Wednesdays. I was able to play two times a week and then I was working out on my own, doing sprints or running. I also did Orangetheory, which is a workout class. There are 25 minutes on the treadmill which is good for soccer and then we will do 25-30 minutes on the floor with weights and stuff and end with ergometer work. It is a little bit of everything.”
Looking ahead to her sophomore campaign,
Bodden knows that nothing is guaranteed.
“I need to step up and I need to stay healthy,” said Bodden. “There are a lot of players coming in, like 15, so coach [Joe] Russo has to make cuts, which is very nerve-wracking for everyone. I am not really safe, I have to prove myself.”
With TCNJ having gone 17-1-2 last season but falling to Brandeis on penalty kicks in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Bodden and her teammates are looking to prove themselves as bona fide national title contenders.
“We want to make it far in the NCAAs; winning a national championship would be amazing,” said Bodden.
“It is a tough road but it is so worth it; college soccer is a lot different than high school soccer. I am glad I stuck with it because it is a big part of my life. It was the right choice for me.”