TOURNAMENT CENTRAL—By all accounts, the team from that college or university definitely could have won that last game. The loss eliminated the team from the USAU series, ending the season that players had been considering their best chance in years go further than they did.
“It’s really frustrating,” said the team captain after the game. “We were right there…right there. I think we were as talented as that other team, but we just didn’t put it together. That was a winnable game.”
The teams started off close, with the score knotted at 0-0, but unfortunately the losing team was plagued by a negative turnover differential over the rest of the game.
“You know, I think we put in the work at practice this year,” remarked a junior handler for the losing team. “And I think if we played that team five times, we’d probably win three.”
|It's not why they lost, but that one player was so out.|
Spirits were understandably a bit down after the loss; however, some players for the losing team put the emphasis on the future. Said a sophomore defensive cutter, “I think we’re gonna’ be a better team next year than we were this year. We have a lot of strong, young talent, and I think we’ll have a chance to really bring it all together next season.”
At the postgame huddle, players shared their thoughts on the just-concluded season, and a graduating senior offered words of encouragement.
“You know, this loss stings. It does. And it’s not how we wanted to finish our season,” said the senior. “But you have to use that loss and turn it into something productive. Take it into your training. Use it to fuel yourself during the off-season and at practice next year. This is your team now.”
To improve for next season, the team plans to emphasize recruitment among next year’s freshmen, specifically targeting soccer players who did not make, or chose not to play for, the school’s NCAA team. This year’s captains have offered to send out emails suggesting how returning players can improve.
The team will vote on next year’s captains in the coming weeks, and someone unexpected will probably be nominated, leaving everyone feeling slightly awkward at the meeting.