At a school where sports are not a priority and soccer games are poorly attended on a good day, the 26 members of the University of Dallas Women’s Soccer team played through rain, heat, darkness and outsider indifference to fight for a place in the conference tournament. They made it.
The numbers were not great. The team ended their season 6-13-2 overall and 4-7-1 in conference play. There were heartbreaking defeats in less-than-ideal conditions. More than one player compared the game at Centenary College to a swim meet.
“It was a learning season,” said sophomore goalkeeper and Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Defensive Player of the Year Elena Naccari. “Overall there were some ups and some downs, but we have a solid core group and are proud of our accomplishments this season.”
The team did have many accomplishments. A talented crew of freshmen established themselves as powerhouses in goal-scoring: forwards Mason Cosgrove and Samantha Deitschel and midfielder Kathryn Zepeda all put multiple shots in the back of the net. Senior goalkeeper Alice Bloemer led the team to a decisive 5-0 victory over Sul Ross State University at UD’s last home game of the regular season, and her fellow seniors — forward/midfielder Mariah Fairbanks, defender Nicolette Perez and midfielder Abigale Weisbrod — all finished the season with multiple goals to their names. Perhaps most significantly, the girls ended conference play with a last-minute 1-0 victory over their rivals, Austin College, giving them the fifth seed going into the conference tournament.
Their final loss to Southwestern University in the SCAC tournament quarterfinals was a hard-fought battle, with both teams creating multiple scoring opportunities throughout regulation play and two overtime periods that ended in a 0-0 tie. The subsequent penalty kick shootout favored Southwestern in the end, but the girls are moving forward with pride and optimism.
“It was a great year to learn,” said sophomore forward Mackenzie Vasile. “I expect great things for next season. We have a lot of talent, and it’ll only get better with the incoming freshmen.”
The coming semester will bring new challenges and opportunities for growth. With the seniors gone, and many of the sophomores in Rome for the spring, it will be a time for recruiting, recovering, improving and forming new bonds among teammates so that next fall, UDWS can take the field as a new power in the SCAC and in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.