The tigers of Asia are famous for their ability to stalk prey over large distances before unleashing their powerful attack. The prey has little chance of fooling the tiger, but even when it does, the tiger will learn from its defeat.
A lesser known subspecies, the Trinity Tiger, will always seek revenge on those who have briefly outsmarted it. The Trinity Tiger, which lurks right outside the limits of the Monte Vista Historic District, will hold grudges against its prey for up to a year before it strikes again.
Trinity University’s football, volleyball, men’s soccer and women’s soccer teams all suffered heartbreaking losses that cut their seasons short. These unexpected losses challenged the players’ mental strength and forced them to bounce back even harder this season.
On the gridiron, the Tigers missed the playoffs last year, but finished with a solid winning record of 6–4. They came close to having a record of 9–1 but fell just short when they lost three games by a combined 12 points.
“It kind of seems on paper like we had a mediocre season, but we were really close to winning our division. We had our last game against Berry [College], who won the conference last year. They were undefeated last year when we played them, and we only lost to them by three in a really close game,” said Vail Miesfeld, Trinity’s senior starting field cornerback — a position that defends the wide receiver closest to the wider side of the field.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers graduated only 4 starters and kept its entire secondary (the cornerbacks and safeties) intact. However, the offense lost starting quarterback Austin Grauer and wide receiver Rhodes Legg to their graduation. The offense graduated 32 percent of its production (all-purpose yards minus return yards), meaning that they will need to turn to underclassmen and incoming first-years to fill the void.
“Obviously we lost some key players, but I’m not too worried about that,” Miesfeld said. “I think that even last year we had good young guys backing them up. I’m really excited to see what the offense can do. No discredit to Grauer, but the young guys coming up are pretty exciting players, too.”
The football team starts the season with a Thursday night nonconference game at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, on Aug. 30, which is untraditional considering generally first games are played on Saturdays. Thursday night games give the teams less time to prepare for competition but allow for an advantage in the next week.
“The biggest factor in football is rest. So, if we have an earlier game, we can get more rest for the next game,” Miesfeld said. “It does feel weird [playing on Thursday], but at the end of the day when you start warming up for the games and get into that mindset, there is not much of a difference. You just go out and play like you have always played your whole life.”
The Tigers lost in the final round of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) tournament to Colorado College by a score of three sets to two. They were then selected for the NCAA tournament with an at-large bid but lost in the first round to Pacific Lutheran three sets to one. Senior liberio Sarah Mullens felt that the team lost due to an improper mental mindset.
“Although we tried not to, we found ourselves looking past the first round and towards who we would have to play in the second [round]. When the opponent in the first round ended up being a really good team, we didn’t have time to recover and get in the right mindset,” Mullens said.
The volleyball team only graduated two seniors last year because outside hitter Madeline McKay decided to stay for a fifth year. Since McKay joined the team as a sophomore, she had an extra year of eligibility. In her four years of playing for Trinity, McKay is a two-time first team All-SCAC member and gives the team valuable experience and skill.
“Madeline’s experience motivates the rest of us to perform at the highest possible level. Knowing that someone was so devoted to our team and believed in us so much that they were willing to stay a fifth year because of us inspires us to work harder,” Mullens said.
Many players have put in countless hours of training during the offseason to better the team’s chances, namely senior Jade Schoenberger.
“Jade has been working super hard this summer. She is in San Antonio for an internship, so she is getting to work with [the strength and conditioning coach] every day,” McKay said. “We have already seen improvements in her physical strength, which could help the team with our net play. If she is working this hard, she is going to be a great person have up front helping us defend.”
The volleyball team begins their season on Friday, Aug. 31, with a home match against Cabrini University at 3:00 p.m. as part of the Trinity National Invitational.
The soccer team won the SCAC conference title easily and looked to carry their momentum deep into the NCAA tournament until they met University of Mary-Hardin Baylor. Trinity was 21–1 going into the game and had already beaten Mary-Hardin Baylor once during the regular season.
Despite 12 shots on goal and six second-half corner kicks, Trinity was unable to match Mary-Hardin Baylor’s first half and lost the game 2–3. Junior goalkeeper Blake Lieberman won’t let one game define his legacy.
“Last season definitely ended in heartbreak. Going into the next season, we are obviously looking to go further in the national tournament and ultimately put another star on our jersey. Defeats like that are used as motivation for me,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman and his teammates decided to turn up their offseason practice intensity in a response to the heartbreaking upset.
“Throughout the offseason, I stayed in San Antonio to train with SAFC (San Antonio Football Club) in the mornings. Then, in the evenings, the other Trinity players who were in town would all get together and do conditioning in addition to ball work,” Lieberman said.
To replicate the successful regular season that the Tigers had last season, they will need to replace their entire graduated back line of Daylon Gordon, Guy Harris, Kellen Reid and Brent Mendelkorn. Thankfully, the guys leaving will replaced by solid defensive options like Carter Moon, Liam Looney and Vetle Maesvaer Halle. They also have a fresh batch of new recruits bolster their defense.be replaced by a dozen of solid defensive options and new recruits.
“Those guys meant a lot to our team. Guy [Harris] and Kellen [Reid] were both senior captains, and Daylon [Gordon] was a fifth-year [senior]. They brought loads of experience to the squad. I believe our incoming class in addition to the returning players are more than capable of filling these roles,” Lieberman said.
Men’s soccer kick offs their season with a home game against Rutgers-Newark University at 8:00 p.m. on Aug. 31.
Despite winning the SCAC conference title and the past 19 straight games, the Tigers lost to Hardin-Simmons University in the second round of the NCAA tournament when Hardin-Simmons scored two goals in the final eight minutes.
“We should not have lost that game. [Hardin-Simmons] also knocked us out of the tournament my freshman year. I will always look forward to playing them. We don’t lose very often, so when we do, we remember the teams we lose to,” said Chelsea Cole, senior co-captain and the reigning SCAC Offensive Player-of-the-Year.
For Cole and the rest of the team, they feel that putting the loss into the back of their minds and focusing on the first few games of the season will be instrumental to a successful season.
“I’m excited for the first few games of the season. They should all be against good teams who were ranked pretty high last year. It will be fun as a test from the beginning to see who steps up and plays what roles. We definitely are able to fill those [vacant] spots with the team we have, so getting good competition right off the bat to challenge us and get the season off to a quick start will be nice,” Cole said.
Senior defender Madee Gallagher, who tore her anterior cruciate ligament in March and is expected to return late September, believes that team will also need to focus on implementing a few newer formations.
“The biggest thing that we will need to focus on in the beginning of the season is learning how to transition back and forth from attacking and defending while still keeping our shape. We also are looking to be more efficient on set pieces — for example, scoring off corner kicks. This will benefit us greatly, especially during conference when we tend to have a greater number of corner kick opportunities each game,” Gallagher said.
The women’s soccer team begins the year with a 4:00 p.m. home game against Pacific Lutheran University on Aug. 31. More information about other sports teams can be found at trinitytigers.com.