By Will LeBlond
Dryden High School alum Taylor Bennett had to make a few transitions when she made the hour trip up north to begin her life as a college student in Syracuse.
For one, she had to switch her color selection from the purple of the Dryden Lions to the orange of Syracuse University. Along with donning the orange, she had to make the big switch from playing high school level soccer to the Division I game, with the best players in the country.
Bennett, a four-time New York First-Team All-State selection during her six years as a varsity athlete at Dryden, was able to make the transition seamlessly knowing that she really is just playing the game that she loves.
“The first game was a little bit of a shock, it’s very different from anything I’ve ever done before,” said Bennett. “It’s still the game I’ve been playing for years, it’s just soccer.”
The first collegiate game for Bennett came on August 19 when her Orange traveled an hour southeast to battle the Colgate Raiders to a 1-1 draw. Not only did Bennett play during the game, but she was a starter on the Cuse defense and took part in all 110 minutes of the game that required double overtime.
She was told the night before that she would be a part of the starting 11 in her first game at the college level, which made her all the more hyped up to hit the field.
“I was excited,” said Bennett. “I was ready, but I was super excited.”
And she truly was ready after she spent six weeks working with the team’s strength and conditioning coach during the summer, which included every drill performed without a ball to get her legs ready for the college game. The training she received from the college staff was invaluable when she did hit the field against women mainly older than her, because it was very different brand of soccer than what she was used to.
“The college game is very physical and very fast,” said Bennett. “It’s something I had not seen a lot at the club level.”
Another change Bennett is playing with is not holding the lead role for the team, which is something she had done at Dryden when she complied an astounding 186 goals and 36 assists, which included a Dryden record 48 goals in a single season. Now she is finding other ways to contribute to the success of the Orange during her rookie campaign.
“Not as much of the lead role as I was in high school, but more of just filling in some holes and playing my part,” said Bennett. “I feel comfortable doing that, it’s going to be a part of it coming in during my first year I’m going to be taken in under someone’s wing and just do my best.”
Her growth has already shown results in the scoresheet when she earned her first collegiate assist after she rocketed a free kick off the crossbar, then the rebound was deposited into the back of the net during her second game against Delaware. Even if those individual offensive numbers continue to pile on, Bennett is in it for the long run.
“As a freshman, I just hope to stay in it and to just do my part for the team,” she said.
To check in on Bennett, visit her Syracuse University profile page at www.cuse.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=12887&path=wsoccer.