Women's soccer team takes over
Lee University’s women’s soccer team has kicked its way to the top ten in the NCAA Division II.
“This team is something special,” senior and team captain, Haley Gribler, said.
Before a devastating match against the University of West Florida, the women were on an eight game winning streak. The women have battled hard since the loss and have not seen another defeat. They stand now at 12 wins, two losses and one tie. They are regionally ranked six in the NCAA II.
After a rough preseason, the women were unsure of the season before them. However, their trusted coach, Chris Hennessey, knew where they were headed. The team was able to break a long-standing trend of losing the season opener, giving themselves a morale boost.
“This team is here for the long term,” Hennessey said.
With a new level of pressure, the women are bringing their best game to every practice. According to senior McKenzie Bricker, once the team beat the number one ranked Columbus State, the attitude of the team “switched.” After the win, they started competing and pushing in practice in order to prepare for games against tougher teams.
“We’re gonna work hard from start to finish no matter what,” Bricker said.
In order to defend against stronger teams like Columbus State and West Florida, Hennessey changed the game formation to having five defenders on the back line as opposed to the usual four. With strong defenders, the change gives the back more cover, and the front more chances at the ball.
Though the new formation has helped, the success of this year’s team comes from the closeness of the women playing together. Gribler said the women on the team are together “20/7.” The women aren’t just teammates, they’re close friends. They value their relationship with the Lord and with each other more than they value the wins. Gribler believes the team wants to play well for each other.
“You don’t find that at very many universities,” Gribler said.
Moving off momentum, the women are working against the fatigue that this point in the season brings. They are working hard to keep enthusiasm and passions high, taking it one game at a time and doubling up on ice baths and rest days. Gribler believes it is the enthusiasm and sharpness that has been brought to every practice that has carried the team this far, and she trusts Hennessey to take care of their legs.
According to Gribler, the coaches expect a lot out of the women, but the women expect a lot out of each other as well, and that determination is driving them through to their wins.
“I fully believe this team can win national championship,” Gribler said.