Soccer is a tough sport for a variety of reasons, but especially because players have to run constantly, day after day, mile after mile, in games and in practice. To have a team compete time and time again in the season is truly special and the CBU women’s soccer team is one such team that goes above and beyond this standard, as they are currently undefeated in the Western Athletic Conference.
“I’m really impressed with our team’s grit and heart this season,” said Head Coach Kristin St. Clair. “Those two qualities, coupled with a high work rate, has helped us overcome adversity and earn the points we have needed this season. Additionally, our players have done a tremendous amount of work off the field to better themselves and our team. From strength and conditioning with Coach Jason Quan in the APC (Athletic Performance Center), extra voluntary work with the coaches and spending time refining their skill set outside team training.”
Sometimes there are factors out of the team or coach’s control that can affect play, most notably the uptick in ties across the board in the WAC this year.
“No, it’s not typical to have so many ties, however, many of our attacking players have gone through a lot of adversity with injuries this fall,” St. Clair said. “Last year, the NCAA changed the rules that games no longer go to golden goal for player safety and overall better periodization, which is one of the main contributors to the increase in ties across the entire soccer landscape. I believe this year alone, there have been 33 across the entire WAC Conference.”
Any sport, especially a long and grueling one like soccer, can be punishing on the body. It is just as important for a team to have a support system for the players as it is to recruit the right kind of players. With good support in place, players can focus on other, more pressing issues with their game.
“As a coaching staff, we try to manage the players’ workload during the week in between games. We have a good schedule rotation of training days, game days, rest and recovery days. We want to maintain the routine we’ve set up to help us prepare for each upcoming game and continue to prepare to compete for the WAC championship,” St. Clair said.
Both the coaching staff and the team have worked to maintain this upbeat, positive attitude towards the season and its success. Most importantly, the team made a point to start off strong and hold each other to that higher standard than they know they are capable of.
“To start off the season, our team came together and made goals that we wanted to accomplish every day throughout our time together. Everyone on the team knows the potential of the group we have this season, so we all use that to motivate each other and hold each other to high standards, which leads to our success,” said Raine Clark, sophomore health science major and women’s soccer player.
Part of the reason for this success is the unselfish nature of the players, a quality that seems to be harder and harder to find in athletes, especially at a time when players want to be the sole standout scorer on the team.
“We have a very talented group this year, which has been seen through not only our starting 11 but also through the depth of our team. We have had so many different people step up this year and make a difference when we needed it most, which I think shows the resiliency and determination of this program,” said Clark.
It is not enough to just motivate teammates or even to be a talented player. As shown in sports time and time again, no matter how good a team is, they will inevitably fail if they lack good chemistry. What this team has built with each other goes beyond soccer.
“When a team isn’t united and doesn’t trust each other, it shows,” said Summer Allen, sophomore business administration major and women’s soccer player. “I really appreciate everyone this year and how much work people put into making this team a good and safe environment. You can see it in the way this team plays selflessly. As a defender, I have to trust my other defenders to get the job done. Without that, we wouldn’t be successful. I have so much faith in my fellow defenders and goalkeeper that it gives me confidence to perform and focus on my job.”
The team and individual players are constantly seeking ways to close the gap and overcome ties that have plagued their season.
“We just need to clean up some little details. Making sure everyone refines their 1v1 defending, touch, passes, shots, etc. The game of soccer is not complex, and the best teams win because they can play a simple, clean game. It really is about going back to the basics and solidifying the style we want to play,” said Allen.
The team is more than prepared as they ready themselves for the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, where they will have the home-field advantage for the duration of the playoffs.