UConn soccer hasn’t seen the greatest run this season, from the men’s team falling to USF in the first round of the American Athletic Conference championship to the women’s team failing to qualify for the championship. However, one soccer club may bring light to the sport along with the title of champions.
The UConn Women’s Club Soccer team had a flawless and noteworthy season, winning all 10 of its fixtures. The club also won the Region I Tournament at The Proving Grounds in Pennsylvania and are seeking to become champions of the NIRSA National Soccer Championships in Round Rock, Texas.
Caroline Kelly, president and one of three captains, said the team’s overall energy this season was wonderful, and, they are excited to keep the momentum going at the nationals.
“We’ve really bonded as a team and gotten really close, which has definitely translated to our success on the field,” she said. “Everyone’s been super excited about our success, especially winning the regional tournament.”
Haley Arruda, a 21-year old senior and another captain, said their constant success throughout the regular season helped create a positive environment whenever they played or practiced.
“It’s very rare to have an extremely tense practice or game,” Arruda said. “I feel that our chemistry, enthusiasm and determination is what makes us go from good to great.”
They didn’t earn their flawless season at ease, however. Numerous injuries had an effect on the team, but it didn’t hold them back on their performance whatsoever.
“On the field you could not even tell [of our injury problems], and we got the results we wanted,” Arruda said. “Our bench is so deep that someone who isn’t necessarily a starter is equally as good as the person starting on the field.”
Jackie Stephens, a 21-year old senior and the vice president as well as the third captain of the club, said in an interview that one of the main difficulties the team experienced was the condition of the field they played on. She additionally said that many players got ankle injuries due to the poor field conditions.
While their regular season matches saw high-scoring victories, including a 7-0 victory against Trinity College and a 6-0 win against the University of New Haven, there were teams that managed to put up a fight, such as Syracuse and Cornell in the regional’s semifinal and final respectively.
“No game was going to be handed to us; we had to earn it,” Arruda said. “But we had that drive to win, which kept us going and kept us fighting… When you’re on the field and tired, hearing your teammates cheer you on and encourage you to keep working hard is honestly the best.”
Stephens also said that their friendly match against Northeastern University in the regular season was also rather difficult.
“It was 0-0 [at half time]; it was a pretty intense game,” she said. “But then towards the end of the second half there was…15 minutes left, and we got one goal and then we used that momentum and got another goal.”
With the nationals starting today, the women’s club soccer team is looking to keep the same mentality it’s had throughout the season: determination, keeping calm and maintaining its play style.
“It will be important for us to make sure our intensity is as high as possible and that we’re ready to go at the very first whistle!” Kelly said.
Stephens also added on about what playing in the nationals will mean to the club as they’re representing UConn.
“We’re going to keep up the same mentality we’ve had all season,” she said. “Every game…you go into it knowing that you need to put everything that you can on the field, and we want to win, so that’s what we’re here to do.”