Women’s soccer clenched two victories this weekend, shutting out Mississippi College 3-0 and Louisiana College 5-0. Tied for fourth place out of 14 teams, the Oct. 17 and 18 gains advanced the women’s record to 8-5 overall and 7-3 in conference play.
Head coach Meghann Brown said the wins solidified the team’s progress over the season.
“We started off pretty slow, trying to learn how we play together,” Brown said. “Finally we started getting better. We are young so there are some inconsistent times.”
The team is made up of three juniors, three seniors and 13 underclassmen. But the team’s youthfulness has not been too problematic.
“They put in about three hours a day,” Brown said. “It’s a tough schedule and a big time commitment … but they are awesome.”
Brown said this season’s successes are a result of many factors.
“Team unity is big, along with skill and attitude; not backing down when things get tough,” she said. “We also have a very strong defense.”
More than the team’s physical health and mental preparation, the relationships between the players has also been important.
“Team dynamics are great,” Brown said. “The first two weeks we bonded very quickly, faster than any other team I’ve coached. We couldn’t ask for anything better.”
The women’s main goal this season is to win the conference tournament. Brown said this includes maintaining intensity throughout every practice, taking care of each player physically, working hard and eating right.
Mickie Arredondo, Ally Sargeant, Megan Jones, Lauren Thorne, Brittany Paxton and Lexy Smith have all been standout players, but the coach believes each person has been an asset.
“All 19 of them are key in what we are trying to accomplish here,” Brown said.
Forward/attacking man Arredondo was an important player in both matches. She said the recent wins were a result of the team’s continual momentum.
“We kept up our intensity … and played together great as a team,” she said.
Hours spent on the field isn’t all that goes into the success of a game. Student athletes spend hours preparing for games, studying and doing whatever it takes to maintain good grades.
As a biology/pre-med major, Arredondo said balance is a challenge.
“The hardest part about being an athlete is time management. We miss a lot of classes so we have to bring our homework on the road.”
She believes, however, the Lady Cru has what it takes to be successful in its upcoming games.
“We have so much heart on this team,” she said. “We want this so bad and it shows. I think we are accomplishing that.”
The women will travel to Abilene this weekend to play a big rival game against the Hardin Simmons Cowboys on Fri. Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. and then against McMurry University on Sat. at 1 p.m.
Men’s soccer is 2-4-3 in conference and 3-5-3 in overall play after beating Louisiana College on Oct. 18.
Despite a slow start in the first half of the game, the Cru left the stadium with a shutout score of 4-0.
“It was ugly,” head coach Brad Bankhead said. “We were a bit too relaxed in the beginning and lost our focus. But all in all, we took the win, and we’re thankful for that.”
Making it to playoffs is going to require a lot of hard work, but none-the-less they are focused.
“Our backs are against the wall and we have to win every game from here on out,” Bankhead said. “We are going to have to bring our best game.”
The team has only faced one serious injury. Junior Chris Gillam broke his collar bone and was out for seven weeks. He played his first game back this weekend which contributed to the team’s victories.
Bankhead said the players’ greatest strength is their work rate. They spend an average of four hours a day during the week and the most of their weekends getting ready for matches and practicing.
“They work hard in practice and carry that over into the games,” Bankhead said.
The coach believes the team’s weakness lie in its young mentality. The Cru lost eight players last year, including six starters.
“We have a bunch of players who are learning what it is like to battle and win games,” Bankhead said. “They sometimes make young mistakes because they don’t have as much experience.”
The team is now made up of four juniors, four seniors and 30 underclassmen. But Bankhead said some players are stepping up to positions of leadership as the season progresses, like senior defender Frank Crabil.
“We’re brothers,” Crabil said of the relationship he and his teammates have with each other. “Everybody fights for everybody and we never give up.”
Unity has not been an issue this season as the team strives on a common goal: to make it into the American Southwest Conference.
The team travels next weekend to Abilene to play two must-win games against Hardin-Simmons Fri. Oct. 24 at 3 p.m. and McMurry University Sat. Oct. 25 at 3 p.m.