The EMU Women’s Soccer team has had an intense start to their season, with four out of their six non-conference games going into overtime. Of these, the Royals tied two, lost one, and won one, resulting in a heartbreaking zero wins in three double-overtime games.
“It’s disappointing, but we played well,” said first-year mid player Rachel Sauder. “There are little things that we can fix so that we can get a different result, but for the majority of the time we were playing well and in control of the game, and that’s encouraging.”
The number of close games the Royals have played thus far seems to be promising for the team’s season. According to senior mid player Hannah Walker, one of the biggest differences from last year’s team is an increase in roster depth. “Practices have less restrictions on what we can do — [we] could never practice 11 versus 11 with only 18 people — and injuries are not as detrimental to the team … people can take their time to truly recover to their maximum with less stress about there being no subs for a game.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Leah Wenger also commented on the additional depth of this year’s roster. “We’re a lot deeper than we were last year, deep in that we have a lot of good players. Last year was a transition for me personally,” said Wenger. “But this year, coming back and knowing a lot of people has been really nice. The new girls that have come in are all really awesome.”
The incoming first-years seem to have had a positive effect on team dynamics in ways beyond a deeper roster. “I really feel like this freshmen crew has balanced out a lot of team dynamics,” said Wenger. “It just makes the team feel more full. I feel like they all connect us to each other a lot more than we’ve been connected in years past.”
Walker agreed. “This year, the large number of freshmen really brought in an upbeat vibe … their willingness to seek out help from other team members in school work or to get rides to places has brought a new layer of connectedness to the team, [which] is hard sometimes with such a large roster,” said Walker. “I can recall multiple times on bus rides or in locker rooms where I simply stopped and listened to all the excited or animated chatter.”
Sauder, Walker, Wenger, and the rest of the Royals finished up their non-conference play with a loss against rival Bridgewater last night, getting shut out in a 0-3 loss. EMU moves into conference play against Roanoke on Saturday with a 2-3-2 record.