“At the beginning of this season we all sat down together as a team and created team goals, positional goals and individual goals for ourselves,” said Maddy Glaser, a senior midfielder.
The sit-down must have worked because the team came out strong this season, winning their first game against the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Almost immediately Albuquerque scored off a corner kick, but that didn’t shake the Dons. The women’s team went on to tie up the game before half-time with an impressive shot made by Samantha Jennings, a redshirt junior. In the second half, Sonja Giraud scored the game-winning goal, setting a positive tone for the season.
The Dons suffered a loss to Texas Tech in the following game. After the loss, the Dons had another difficult game on the roster: Cal Berkeley. The last time USF pulled a W against the Bears was in 1995, before many of the current players were even born. The match last Friday went differently. History was made and our women’s team beat Cal Berkeley, ranked number 6 in the nation. It was the first time in 22 years. They prepared tirelessly for the game, stayed true to their roles on the field and executed their game plan. Izzie Leuken, sophomore forward, netted a goal and led the Dons to a 1-0 victory.
Following the historic Cal game, the team faced unfortunate losses. “We strayed away from fundamentals, and the confidence was not the same,” says Glaser.
The Dons fell to UC Davis, Oregon State and Stanford, who is ranked second nationally. Even though these games resulted in losses for the women’s team, they learned from their errors and will use these experiences to improve their game.
It should be noted that the women’s schedule is more difficult than it has been in previous years, and all of their games have been very competitive. Even though the team has taken a few hits, they are learning from each game and working on adapting and growing to their potential. The team reports that their mission is to take every game one at a time and to focus all energy on the present challenge, regardless of what’s around the corner.
“Everyday at practice, we come on and leave all else behind,” said Autumn Smithers, a junior defender. “We are there to play, motivate and compete. All else is on the back burner until we are finished with what we came to do.”
The coaches this year, Jim Millinder, Chelsea Davis, Paul Hart and Pinder Nijjar, all capture a different view of the team and different aspects of the game. The players report that this made a huge impact on the team’s growth, individually and as a unit. The team dynamic is as strong as ever, and new freshmen have made many positive contributions, especially when it comes to humor, according to Smithers. The team feels they have strong leadership within the team, and all strive towards a common goal: to compete in the NCAA tournament. This would be a first for any USF Women’s Soccer Team. But with a strong mindset paired with their determination and skill, they hope to achieve this coveted milestone.
Featured Photo: The Women’s Soccer Team Beats Cal, but drops Stanford Game