There is a silent tension that descends across the field and is felt by all of the fans before the start of a soccer match. The back-ground music ends, the crowd’s murmurs soften, and an aggressive yet controlled focus captivates the players as they await the whistle’s ignition. In a sense, the serene silence before a focused storm is the status of the R-MC Women’s Soccer team before its first ODAC match-up. With five matches behind them, the team has the focus it needs to become a strong, unified unit this season.
The Jackets have played in five conference games, winning three of the five games and standing at a sixty percent winning record. This start, however, has left room for improvement as a squad. The focal points of improvements are acknowledged by the entirety of the team, making all of them resolvable issues.
“We need to be effective with our play as individuals and as a team,” Coach Howell explained. “We must defend and attack as a team, as well as stay focused throughout the entire game.”
“We need to make sure that we continue to create scoring opportunities and finish those opportunities when we have them,” agreed senior Katherine Schwalen. “Our team needs to stay focused on finishing our opportunities offensively and defending as a group,” freshman Lydia Hall added. “I believe that if we stay focused, our season will end positively.”
These points, however, do not diminish the excitement around the team this season. This year there is a strong mix of upperclassman and underclassman players, with a total of thirty eight players on the team.
“Our team is young with sixteen freshmen this year, but we also have a large graduating class of nine seniors,” Schwalen explained.
The large roster means that there will be internal competition for the limited starting positions.
“There is healthy competition within the squad throughout the four classes… We are still pursuing the best mix of players,” Coach Howell shared.
This will hopefully lead to a healthy pressure between the teammates so that they will play well and competitively for the sake of winning.
The seniors are starting the season with an excited air mixed with a bittersweet taste that comes with their last year of collegiate competition. Schwalen shared her mixed emotions, but also her eagerness to show the team’s strength in her final year.
“I think our team is really talented this year and I can’t wait to show everyone how much we have improved over the last four years,” Schwalen said.
The freshmen also feel the atmosphere the seniors have helped create for the season.
“The upperclassmen have done a great job of helping to mentor the newer members and are constantly helping us to get better,” Hall said.
The team acknowledges that there are some things, such as pre-game preparations, that enable them to feel prepared and comfortable for their games. In addition to eating well and set-ting aside distractions, Hall comments that the team “sings along to lots of music” to get hyped up for the game.
“We always have a great time jamming out before we head out to the field,” Schwalen adds. “Any nerves that we have before kickoff are gone and we can focus on getting a win.”
R-MC Women’s Soccer is an ambitious team that is focused on becoming a strong force within the ODAC conference. The players are dedicated, the will to win is burning, and the team is in agreement on what they need to improve on in order to become that intimidating force. The team is currently preparing for their first ODAC match against Emory and Henry this weekend. The serene pause will now slowly transition into a quiet, fiery pierce as the season starts, and the Women’s Soccer team aches to win.
-Bar Hass ’16, Senior Sports Editor