If soccer championships were won by the amount of effort put forth instead of by the numbers of goals, Stephens soccer team would qualify for the World Cup.
Unfortunately, championships are won with goals. This inaugural season, the Stars struggled to keep up with their opponents.
“We did not score an offensive goal,” Xander Kennedy, head soccer coach, said. “But I’d like to stick an asterisk on that statement in part because we did score on our own goal at one point.”
Amidst the scoreless season, a defender for the Stars put just enough pressure on the ball trying to get it out of the box, leading the ball straight into their own goal.
“I watched it happen right in front of me,” Taylor Baker, sophomore team member, said. “It was a facepalm moment.”
Elsie Vieira, senior team member, said at the moment of the goal, the team had to laugh it off and continue the game.
“It’s one example of how challenging the game can be,” Vieira said.
Throughout the season Kennedy mentioned genuine opportunities the team had to score a goal, with several shots that were inches away.
Their performance during games did not interfere with the building of the program, and their efforts did not go unnoticed.
“I think the ladies really committed to this process and despite some bumps and bruises along the way, they never lost their drive or focus,” Kennedy said.
The hard work the team put in to the season is comparable to every team in the conference, but what Stephens lacked was time.
“Soccer is composed of game experience,” Vieira said. She attributes their losing season to lack of time and experience.
Baker said the team lacked the same chemistry shown by teams who have played together and have developed a solid program.
Despite the hurdles they crossed, Kennedy said the team kept a positive attitude despite on the field results.
“We had to remind each other that it was all new and there was nothing to regret or be ashamed of as long as you put your best effort on the field,” Vieira said.
There were times Baker said she struggled to keep her head up but continued fighting for the team.
Acting as a cheerleader at times, Kennedy had to keep spirits up and keep the athletes positive about what was going to happen during the next game.
Although the season has come to a close, and their record may not be what they hoped for, Vieira said Stephens has succeeded in getting the sport recognized as part of their athletics program.
Kennedy believes the soccer program is just beginning, and wants to give back to the supportive fans of Stephens by creating a team that will bring home accolades for the school.
“We are going to take noticeable steps next year,” Kennedy said. “We will win a few games.”