Women’s Soccer kicks off season with four win streak

The Tigers faced off against Cal Lutheran in an engaging match

Last weekend, Trinity’s women’s soccer team won games against California Lutheran University (Cal Lutheran) and East Texas Baptist University with final scores of 3-2 and 4-1, respectively. These two victories were the most recent in the Tigers’ four-game winning streak, which started the previous weekend at the season opener against McMurry University.

The Cal Lutheran match took place on Friday, Sept. 10 at the Paul McGinlay Soccer Field. A crowd of approximately 130 spectators turned out to sit under the hot Texas sun and support the athletes. However, the first impression of many of the spectators—particularly those rooting for the Tigers—wasn’t the heat; it was Cal Lutheran’s unexpectedly physical offensive style.

The Regals, who began the game with possession of the ball, quickly set its pace with their aggressive offense. It seemed like the Tigers had been just as caught off-guard as the spectators by their opponent’s physical play style, and Cal Lutheran took advantage of the Tigers’ surprise to take an early lead. The Regals scored their first goal just 12 minutes into the first half. Trinity’s defense adjusted by implementing a “bend but don’t break” mentality—a defensive strategy which focuses more on stopping big plays, even if that means giving up small plays.

By the end of the first half, Trinity had equalized with a goal scored by first-year Michaela Bosco, but at that point, the game could have easily gone either way. During the first half, the Tigers had struggled to keep control of the ball, and the tactile offensive style of the Regals had initially put the home team on their heels, although they were eventually able to adapt. Senior midfielder and forward Madison Horner noted that the first half of this game demonstrated the team’s ability to overcome curve balls.

“Cal Lutheran was and is great competition. We are always looking to find how and what we can improve on, especially this early in the season. The first half of our game against Cal Lu[theran] perfectly highlighted our team’s drive and willingness to do what needs to get done in order to get the result we wanted,” Horner said.

At halftime, there was a shift in the weather. The air was cooler, and the sun was lower in the sky, casting the bleachers and the field into a pleasant shade. And in a stunning turn of events, the shift in the weather seemed to signal a shift in the game as a whole.

The second half opened with another goal by Cal Lutheran within the first five minutes, though the Tigers seemed far more secure than in the first half. The next shot on goal by the Regals was stopped by sophomore goalkeeper Joey Finley. From that point on, the Tigers’ offense took firm control of the game’s tempo, forcing the Regals to adapt to their pace instead. Senior Kaity Ward, who was subsequently named SCAC Offensive Player of the Week, and sophomore Ashley Zingelmann scored two more goals for the Tigers, bringing the final score to 3-2.

The next day, Trinity had a decisive victory against East Texas Baptist University. Trinity took the lead early in the first half with goals scored by sophomore Emily Hayes, junior Mary Sheridan and Ward, who also assisted in the other two goals. In the second half, first-year Meredith McAlester scored the first goal of her collegiate career, securing a 4-1 victory for Trinity.

One of the Tigers’ greatest strengths on the pitch is their offense. As was demonstrated in the second half of the Cal Lutheran game, when the Trinity offense sets the pace of the game, it puts the other teams on their heels. According to senior midfielder Camryn Beall, the Tigers set up for an effective offense by strategically dividing the field into sections.

“We focus a lot on splitting the field up into certain sections, so we have like 1, 2, 3, 4 this year. And then we break down our final section of the field into a bronze, silver and gold section; so bronze is going to be outside the box, silver is inside the 18 [yard box] and then gold is the six yard box […] We’ve been focusing a lot on penetrating into the bronze zone, passing through into the silver and gold, where most of our goals will be coming from,” Beall said.

For this strategy to work, the team needs to function as a cohesive unit. To ensure success in defense as well as offense, the team focuses on developing their movement skills in practice, according to Beall.

“[W]e also put our energy towards neither offense or defense, but more generally making sure our passes are crisp, our movement is good, that can apply in all parts of the field and that we [are] balanced horizontally and vertically, which ultimately will lead to success in the offense, midfield and defense,” said Beall.

So far, none of the teams that the Tigers have faced have been a part of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC). In fact, TU won’t face off against another SCAC team until October. This is actually an advantage for the Tigers, as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) takes into account a team’s opponents’ winning percentage as well as the winning percentage of the opponent’s opponents. This means that playing (and beating) out-of-conference teams will help the Tigers’ national standings, according to Beall.

“[W]hen we play teams from out of state or teams from outside of our conference, it draws more attention to the games, just because […] entire other conferences are then looking to see how they did against us. So now, we have like California teams — because of Cal Lutheran — that will be looking towards us, and that will come into play whenever we go into the NCAA tournament,” Beall said.

As the season progresses, our women’s soccer team will have the opportunity to follow up their incredibly successful 2018 season, in which they won the SCAC title and advanced to the NCAA playoffs, as well as their 2019 season, which took them to the playoffs, with another fantastic showing for Trinity. Their next game is on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 4:30 p.m. against Howard Payne University at Trinity’s McGinlay Field.