Women’s soccer snatches No. 17

by Abby Fergusson
Sports Editor

After a successful 5-1 start to the 2011 season, the Transylvania women’s soccer team has not looked back. This success has led them to No. 17 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America rankings.

“Being ranked is of course very exciting. National recognition is not something that happens every day, and it is a great accomplishment,” said senior goalkeeper Kara Hansel.

Even though they are ranked, the women know how crucial it is to stay focused and keep moving forward.

“Being ranked is great, but we have to keep it in perspective,” said head coach Michael Fulton. “We have been ranked before, and then we go out and lose our next game, and there go the rankings. It is all about consistency and we have to perform at a high level each and every game.”

“We need to focus on each individual game and play as well as we can,” said Hansel. “A ranking doesn’t mean much if we go out and screw it up right away. Holding on to that ranking says more.”

Senior Elizabeth Schmitt has been a strong force at the midfield position for the Pioneers throughout her career.

The team’s win over Otterbein University, then ranked No. 3 in the country, has been one of the biggest highlights of the season thus far.

“(It was) exciting; the whole team was on a high after that game,” Hansel said. “We were the underdogs, so the pressure to win was on them, not us, making it even more special to us.”

Just like every year, preseason played an important role in preparing the team for the demands of the season.

“Preseason always plays a major part in getting the season started off right and (coming) out as prepared as possible. There is always room to go forward,” said Hansel.

With their demanding schedule, the women see how vital it is to improve each time they step foot on the field.

“The next step for us is to stay focused on the season, and get better as the season goes along. We have a very competitive schedule and conference is the most important part,” said Fulton.

With each year come new personalities to the team, and the women see that adapting to the new team dynamic will help them succeed.

“Every year is different, and I think what makes a team talented is figuring out how to adapt to the loss of old players and the addition of new players every year,” said Hansel.

As the season moves forward, Fulton knows that keeping the team focused can be a challenge.

“There are many distractions these days, outside of soccer, and we have to make sure the team is not spreading themselves too thin with too many things to do,” said Fulton.

Playing as a team has proven to be imperative to the women’s success this season.

“The keys to this season, I think, have been the team chemistry. We have seemed to really come together on and off the field, which has really shown during practices and games,” said Hansel.

“The team has a good makeup of girls who are willing to sacrifice for the success of the team, and I appreciate that about them. They push and challenge each other, and they just have to learn to bring it to a higher level now,” Fulton said.

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