The Trinity University women’s soccer team can score more in a single game than some competitors score in an entire season. The Tigers, 21-time Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) champions, play one moment at a time while staying aware of and prepared for the future. With each goal they score, the Tigers work toward a higher goal.
“We’re taking it one game at a time right now and always focus on our next game,” said senior forward Julia Camp. “Long-term, we want to win the National Championship. That’s our ultimate goal.”
The Tigers are back and ready to fight for their shot at the ultimate goal. Returning to the pitch are 20 players, seven of whom were starters, fresh off last year’s 23-1 record; they were undefeated in the regular season. The Tigers fell in the quarterfinals of their 22nd NCAA Tournament to Washington University in St. Louis, who went on to win the NCAA championship.
“We have a lot of people returning, so I think we’re just all really looking forward to building on what we had last year and continuing to get better,” Camp said.
New recruits also promise to add fresh blood to an already dominant roster of athletes. The first years include three defenders, two midfielders, a forward and a goalkeeper.
“We have a lot of great players coming back. We also have a strong incoming class and a handful of players who were injured last year,” said senior midfielder Julia Kelly. “I am really excited to see what the new incoming freshmen are going to bring to our team and how we will build on our foundation from last year.”
The Tigers have spent the summer counting down the days until they could play again with their teammates.
“I miss the team so much,” said junior midfielder Chelsea Cole. “There is just something about the feeling of getting out on our field and playing together again. It’s exciting to see all the energy and all of our hard work over the summer play out.”
“Everyone is super excited. Our season is my favorite time of the year, and I think I speak for the team when saying that’s true for everyone,” Camp said. “It’s been a long wait and we can’t wait to play again.”
With that excitement comes an expectation and preparedness for the challenges ahead.
“The hardest challenge will just be getting used to playing with each other again. It always takes a little bit of polishing for things to look the way they should, and we still have a lot of work to do with that,” Camp said.
The Tigers begin their season Sept. 1″“2 in Virginia Beach, Virginia against Christopher Newport University and Virginia Wesleyan University, both of whom, like the Tigers, are nationally ranked.
“They’ll be two tough games, but we plan on winning,” Camp said.
At the helm of the team is head coach Dylan Harrison. The Trinity soccer alumnus is beginning his sophomore season coaching the team with a greater knowledge of his players gained from his first season last year.
“Everyone was a little unsure of what to expect at the beginning of last season, but I think [Harrison] is unlike any other coach. With him we have more confidence and play more relaxed. We are more grateful for him than he knows,” Cole said. “Dylan is really good at finding what each individual player can bring to the game and encouraging them to do what they do best at all times. I think now that he knows all of us more in depth he will be able to continue to help us grow individually and as a team, while integrating the freshmen into the team. Now that we know what a good coach he is, we are able to fully put our trust in him and what he thinks is best for the team.”
The defensive prowess of the Tigers is what allows the team to keep possession of the ball for the majority of the game.
“One of the things we will be focusing on is defending as a team, which will lead to offensive success,” Kelly said.
Cole explained how the players rely on outside crosses and wide balls to make the job of the opposing defense harder.
“We like to switch the field, get the ball out wide, and score off of crosses,” Cole said. “The majority of our goals are scored in the six-yard box. As long as we make good runs, crosses from the outside are hard to defend, so we will try to get the ball out wide as much as possible. We also have players with a lot of pace on the outside that are able to beat defenders and put crosses in. We like to build the attack out of the back when we can, instead of trying to beat the defense with long balls, which is just another part of being a possession-oriented team. And when we don’t have the ball, we do our job and half of someone else’s job until we get it back.”
“We plan on working really hard and just enjoying every minute of it,” Camp said. “Passion translates to wins.”
“I am also excited for our disco ball locker room speaker,” Cole said. “It was a personal request of mine for the locker room. Oh, and I am also excited to win games. That’s the most important part.”
The Tigers host Sul Ross State University in their opening home game on Monday, Sept. 4 at Paul McGinlay Soccer field.