The Newman University women’s soccer team has soared to new heights in the first half of its season while overcoming challenges, said Head Women’s Soccer coach Aaron Avila.
“This year has been a challenging year for our young team. We have experienced some success but have also had to deal with disappointing results at times,” he said. “Our players have continued to work towards becoming more consistent and are making important strides as a team that will allow us to have more success in the future.”
Freshman Stella Schneider said success not only comes from practice and hard work but also from the team’s connection.
“Everyone wants the same thing and that is to win each game, and each of us knows we have to work hard to be able to get that done,” she said. “So with our coaches helping us and everyone putting in the work, we have been able to have good success so far.”
Avila said having so many new players makes this a transition year.
“We are building from this year into next year though. I believe what last year did do for this group is set a high bar and a certain level of expectation,” he said. “We are just focusing on becoming better each week and managing our players through a taxing season.”
Senior Caitlin Davis said with this new group of players, the team can be successful.
“As both a young and new team to the MIAA conference, I think it’s fair to say that we can compete with just about anyone in this conference,” she said. “Other teams know that Newman won’t be an easy game.”
Schneider said so much of a successful soccer team is the teamwork aspect.
“I’m most proud of how everyone on the team wants to put in the work to help each other,” she said. “Yes, practice is about bettering ourselves, but the overall work is put in for the team. We play for each other.”
“I am proud of the growth I have seen from individual players and the group as a whole,” Avila said. “They are becoming a better team each week and are learning to really help and push one another.”
Sophomore Jackie Lari is just one example of an outstanding individual. She won Goalie of the Week in the MIAA for two weeks in a row. She was surprised to get the honor for two consecutive weeks, she said.
“It’s honestly a team effort. The whole backline helps keep balls out. Both weekends we didn’t have any goals scored on us, but it’s not like it was just me,” Lari said.
Avila said the team’s goals are simple.
“We want to be prepared for each game in order to compete and get a result that will allow us to compete for a championship at the end of the season,” he said.
Lari said that the team is trying to build off of what they have already learned together.
“We’re trying to develop all that we learned over spring, so we’re trying to keep our style of play and learn new things because the teams play differently, too, so we have to both adapt while keeping our style of play,” Avila said.
Avila said that the team is working to improve its overall culture.
“We want to continue to develop a culture that will have consistent success at the NCAA level. This is my fourth season at Newman and each year the teams are different,” he said. “Each team has had different strengths, weaknesses, team dynamics, etc. The one thing that has continuously improved is our team culture.”
Avila said the team has its sights on the postseason.
“We still have five conference games left and we are fighting for a postseason spot at the moment. Ideally, we would like to finish in the top four and host a postseason game.”
The Newman women’s soccer team will continue its season with a game at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at Wilkins Field in Wichita.