By Sophia Oppedisano
The Framingham State women’s soccer team came together Feb. 2 to meet Michael La Francesca, the new head coach.
Tom Kelley, director of athletics, announced La Francesca as the new head coach Jan. 24.
Captain Megan “Moo” McAuliffe, a junior, said the meeting was “really refreshing” for the team.
“I think that the team is just really excited and I could kind of see the girls’ eyes sparkle when he was in there,” McAuliffe said.
“He is so enthusiastic and excited. He's like a ball of energy. It's contagious to be around. It makes me excited,” said Captain Tori Potter, a junior.
Kelley described La Francesca as a “home-run” acquisition for the program and said it’s important for the Athletic Department to let the student athletes know they are cared for.
La Francesca was the varsity head coach at Medfield High School and spent time as an advisor to the women’s soccer program at Lasell University before coming to Framingham.
“I felt like this is a program that I can help change and improve and then move forward,” La Francesca said.
He added the Athletic Department and the students have been “wonderful and supportive” during his first few weeks, and their attitudes have shown him how “open” the University is.
Hailey Baker, a junior, served as the student representative during La Francesca’s hiring process and said the first impression she had was “just how dedicated he seemed not only to just becoming the coach of this team, but also just to the game of soccer itself.
“I think he’ll do a very good job of keeping the team together - and just strengthening the team culture we already have,” Baker added.
La Francesca said his coaching philosophy “revolves around fostering a supportive and competitive environment” where all of his players “can thrive both on and off the field.”
He added along with winning games, “You measure success by the output that the team has, but also is the team happy - are we taking the right steps to meet the goals that we have, that we set for ourselves? That to me is achievement.”
The team has faced adversity in the last few years. Their 2023-24 season ended with a 1-12-2 overall record.
“Everyone keeps talking about how this is going to be our ‘rebuilding year,’” McAuliffe said.
She added La Francesca told the team “he doesn't believe in rebuilding - he believes in reloading.”
“When he said that, it kind of just stopped me and I was like, ‘All right. We’re reloading.’ I was excited for that,” McAuliffe said.
“Moo and I looked at each other and we're like, ‘Oh my God! … This is it.’ This is the energy and attention we need and we love that,” Potter said.
As the off-season continues for the team, La Francesca said his focus right now is “recruiting, building relationships, and building a cohesive team off the field.
“You know, I do feel that we're going to have a very successful season,” he added.