NORTH ADAMS -- Often it's the things that can't be taught to a soccer player -- such as size and strength -- that go the furthest toward making them an offensive star.
When Jen Ferrari transferred to MCLA from Johnson State before this year, that's exactly what she brought to the Trailblazers. She's been important all over the field this season, but she shines the most on corner kicks.
"Jen is just a smart soccer player, she can read the field very well," coach Deb Raber said. "On corner kicks she is just incredibly dangerous, not to mention being 5-feet, 10-inches and really strong, that helps her a lot."
Of her team-leading eight goals this season, six of them have been headers off corner kicks. Lindsay Borbolla has taken all six of those corner kicks.
"No one wants to get in front of Lindsay's ball. Every corner she takes is just such a driven ball that even if defenders are in the way, you see them ducking because it's such a bullet," Ferrari said after Wednesday's 2-0 win over Mount Holyoke College. "I really just get my head on it and deflect it, the goalie has no time to react. She really gets a lot of the credit for delivering just perfect balls."
This year is the first time Ferrari has been asked to play up front for a team, normally playing in the midfield on previous teams. Raber chose to put both Ferrari and Rebecca Pike up front because of their size. At 5-foot-10, most teams have a difficult
It's a new theme for the Trailblazers, who in the past have been a much smaller team that relied heavily on speed rather than size and strength.
"We didn't have any kind of heading presence like what Jen gives us," Raber said. "Whether it be in the midfield or on corner kicks, she really just has a nose for the goal and for the ball."
Ferrari's ability to head the ball has given Borbolla more confidence when taking corners, as well. She leads the team in both points and assists this season. She's recorded nine assists, seven off corners.
"I just know Jen will get her head on it, she's always there and not afraid to get her head on the ball," Borbolla said. "With her size and strength and then with Pike, neither one of them are afraid of anything. They'll get in there and do everything to get a head on it, it's a huge plus for us."
With a change in schools and position, it took Ferrari a little time to adapt to her new team and role. She has since figured things out pretty well on the field.
The junior leads the team in goals and is second in points with 18. She is also second in shots and shots on goal. She leads the team in game-winning goals with four.
"I think we want to play a little bit more of a possesion-minded game than she was used to," Raber said. "But, she's a sponge for learning the game and when you have the physical attributes like she does, it makes for one heck of a player.
"She just makes things happen, even if she's not the one putting the ball in the goal. She draws the attention and allows someone else to put the ball in the goal."