This season, the Trinity University women’s soccer team has proved themselves to be strong unit.
With a record of 11-0-1, the women’s team is currently ranked third in the nation for Division III soccer and first in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) with their 6-0 record in conference play. According to the SCAC website, those six victories have given the Tigers 18 points in the league table and have provided the Tigers with a nice 5 point cushion over their closest competitor, Schreiner University.
This past weekend, the Tigers took on Texas Lutheran University and Southwestern University and were victorious in both contests.
Of note from the game with Texas Lutheran on Friday, head coach Lance Key earned his 200th win of his career and shortly followed up with his 201st win on Sunday. In addition, he was one of eight inductees into the Trinity University Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday.
When asked about what this 200th victory on Friday meant to him and to the program, Key had this to say:
“What’s the difference between this win and the 32nd win? It’s just another game that we turn up to and we’ve got a job to do. I wouldn’t expect [the team] to approach it any differently than they would any other game.”
Key mentioned that with the win, he could not help but look back on the past teams he coached that shaped him as a person.
“The number itself, although it’s sort of commemorative with a victory, what it does to me is just brings back a lot of memories of all the players that I’ve had a chance to work with over the course of my time here,” Key said.
Key admitted that early on in his tenure as the head coach of the women’s soccer team, he did not start out as strong as he would have hoped.
“When I first arrived, I got a lot of things wrong, unfortunately for the players that were here very early on during my time here,” Key said. “They were very big contributors to my learning process.”
Key expressed his gratitude for his past players, knowing that they helped pave the way for the women’s soccer program’s success.
“I’m eternally grateful to those guys for their patience, just being merciful and gracious with me,” Key said. “It’s a great experience and a great commemoration of a whole lot of memories that have occurred up to this point.”
For this year’s team to continue on with the success of teams prior, Key noted that the team is exactly where they need to be, but they can still continue to improve.
“We’ve got to continue to try to build and try to win as many games as we can because that is an indication that our training is working and our training is effective,” Key said. “We’re making progressive growth throughout the season so hopefully we continue to do so.”
One issue that Key knew the team had to improve on was establishing an identity, a challenge arising from the high amount of turnover on the team, specifically on the offensive side of the ball.
“This team early on had a little identity to find,” Key said. “We had a little bit of difficulty finding the back of the net.”
Friday’s game was a good indicator of the improvements that the team needs to be working on, for it took the Tigers a little bit of time to score against Texas Lutheran University. It was not until junior midfielder Allison Carter found the back of the net on a try with eight minutes left in the first half that there was a break in the score. Carter earned the honor of Co-Offensive Player of the Week for her performance this week and was very pleased with her contribution to the team post game.
“It felt amazing,” Carter said. “I hadn’t scored yet this season, so I was super pumped.”
After Carter’s goal, it seemed as if every other shot the Tigers took found its way to the back of the goal. Junior defender Jordan Leeper was one of those players as she found the back of the net with a beautifully taken free kick.
Key was among many of those impressed with her shot and her recent performances on the pitch.
“Leeper’s strike in the first half was phenomenal,” Key said. “The wave that she’s been on for the last couple weeks, she’s been playing exceptionally well.”
Leeper admitted that the team has been failing to turn chances into goals early on in their games, but she mentioned that once the team finally scores, it does not seem to stop.
“It’s always after we make that first goal that we start getting into a rhythm,” Leeper said. “After we score those first two goals, they just keep coming.”
While Key mentioned that the team had trouble finding their identity early on in the season, he believes that the team has finally found the identity that they were looking for: playing well together as a team. It is this identity that will continue to carry the women’s soccer team to success.