The game of soccer is an art that can be difficult to master. Every team is looking to be successful but only the strongest of units will reach the top of the pinnacle latter.
A successful team needs to be balanced on both sides of the ball. Both the defense and the offense need to be play hard in order to become a dominant team. The dominance is then expected to carry throughout multiple games, and not just 90 minutes of play.
It is a certain level of consistency that is not always built for every team at any level of soccer. It is the focus and determination of 11 players on a field that create a winning team.
During a time that the colorful leaves are falling off the trees on the Springfield College campus, the women’s soccer team has focus and determination written all over their jerseys.
The Pride are currently 10-3-3 overall and second in the NEWMAC conference. It was only last Saturday when their five-game winning streak was snapped in result of a 1-1 tie to NEWMAC foe WPI at Brock-Affleck Field.
During the streak, Springfield beat Smith (1-0), Wheaton (1-0), Clark (3-0), Emerson (2-0), and Mount Holyoke (4-1), all being NEWMAC opponents. The games against Clark, Emerson, and Mount Holyoke were all on the road for the Pride.
Having the focus yet taking the wins one at a time is what became the recipe for the streak.
“During these five games, and the whole season we have taken in one step at a time. We focus on each game as an individual and do not look too far in to the future,” said senior goalkeeper Lucy Gillett.
The five-game streak is impressive enough but it is how they defeated their opponents during that streak is what is most impressive. The maroon and white did not allow a goal from their opponents in 410 minutes of play.
Springfield compiled four-straight shutout games, before allowing a goal against Mount Holyoke in the 50th minute of play in that contest. The streak was not the only accomplishment that was a result of focus.
“I think that’s what helped us shut teams out, stay focused, stay in the moment,” said senior captain Kelly Haines.
The Pride’s defense was a major factor to the 410 minutes of shutout play but the every player on the field would need to defend.
“Everyone attacks and everyone defends. You don’t just defend with defenders, said head coach John Gibson.
Springfield worked together on the field in order to make the shutout become a reality.
“All 11 players on the field played a role in this shutout. Our forwards and midfielders were able to work hard to track back and help us on defense,” said Gillett.
When any team has success, it can also come with pre-game rituals. There is Lebron James chalk-tossing ritual, NBA star Jason Terry sleeps in the opposing team’s shorts the night before a game, and you can’t forget about how Notre Dame Football taps the “Play Like a Champion Today” banner.
The Pride keep it simple: They play music in the locker room. Not only because it pumps them up but it also forms a positive vibe that gets them ready prior to the game.
“We like to get a lot of energy built up in the locker room,” said Gillett.
The overall success recently has been a complete team effort, but there are key notable players that contributed like Haines, Gillett, juniors Jess Miller, Nicole Fowler, and Krissy Cicalis along with freshmen Kimberly Quiles.
“There’s a lot of good things happening,” said Gibson.
It is the good things like the five-game win streak and the 410 minutes of shutout play that are putting a positive spotlight on the Pride.
Can the recent strings of success create even further momentum as postseason play is right around the corner?
“The streak definitely gave us momentum to move forward,” said Gillett. “During these games we were able to realize the potential that we have as a team.”
The streak and the shutout are great features of success for Springfield but it is championship glory that will leave the best feeling.
“The big accomplishment will come once we have the NEWMAC cup in our hands next weekend,” said Gillett.