Lady Flames look toward the playoffs
The Lady Flames soccer team had an incredible finish to the 2014 regular season. The Lady Flames started their season with a 1-3-1 record. After the slow start the Lady Flames found their stride, and won 10 of the remaining 11 games. With a 10-1-0 conference record at the season's end, the Lady Flames finished first in the Gulf South Conference.
With over two weeks between the last game of the season and the first game of the postseason, focus is key for the Lady Flames as they try to keep the momentum that has been built in the past 11 games going into the postseason.
'We are trying to let them rest right now physically and mentally, and get their minds right," Women's Soccer Head Coach Matthew Yelton said. 'Maybe catch up on some classwork, and those sorts of things. We will pick back up practice at the start of next week, and try to be a little fresher physically and mentally which will allow us to try to carry through that last month of the season.'
This is the last season for the Lady Flames to compete in the NCCAA national and regional tournaments. Beginning in 2015 this team will officially be a part of the NCAA. The Lady Flames look to finish their final season in the NCCAA on top.
Being in first place does not guarantee the Flames an NCCAA National Championship. Failing to get a win in the 2013 National Tournament, despite having the best season record, showed the Lady Flames that their confidence cannot blind them from what must be done on the field.
'I think everyone has a good head on their shoulders,' sophomore captain Kinsey Cichowitz said. 'We know [the postseason] is not going to be a cake walk. We, by no means, think that we are high and mighty. We know that it will be hard work. We are going to have to play well every game, and compete every game. There will be some talented teams to play against.'
This team has shown resolve that is rarely seen in college players. In the 11 wins that the Lady Flames have for the season, seven of them have been decided by just one goal.
'Our team has been so blessed with having a hard-working team,' senior defender Michelle Spangler said. 'Some of our results have been heart-attack games like 1-0 or 2-0, and we have just skimmed by. I am just proud of all of our girls.'
Up to this point in the season, the Lady Flames have been trying to prove to themselves that they can compete against anyone. The postseason is the time to show everyone how good of a team they are when matched up against some of the top teams in the country.
Now that the championship is close at hand, it is hard not to look ahead too quickly. The Lady Flames look to the leadership of the coaches and the seniors to show them, from experience, how to stay composed when the national championship is so close.
'We want to win the NCCAA nationals,' senior captain Alison Braun said. 'That's the end goal. With that being said, we have to focus on the next game we play and that game only. We can't be looking ahead to the championship or even the final four. First we have to win our region game, so we're taking it one game at a time.'