After finishing with a 7-11 record last season, the Case Western Reserve University women’s soccer team looks to build on the positives from last season and carry them into this upcoming campaign.
While a sub-.500 winning percentage is never satisfying, the team was able to make history by claiming its first University Athletic Association (UAA) win in over two years.
“The main difference that produced results for us was maintaining possession. We were able to link passes together, starting with our back line, which opened up spaces for us to attack in. Also, every time we lost the ball in their defensive third, we worked hard to win balls higher on the field to make scoring a little bit easier. With all of that said, it took some incredible individual efforts by many team members to put the final goals away,” said former co-captain, defensive back Neha Cheemalavagu.
Through the improved team play and persistence that Cheemalavagu described, CWRU was able to accomplish an impressive feat.
However, the team faced setbacks from many injuries, according to Head Coach Tiffany Crooks. They were still able to push through and finish the season strong, utilizing various lineups to overcome the unfortunate circumstances.
Even with the departure of last season’s co-captains in Cheemalavagu and midfielder Elle Zadina, Crooks feels confident in her fourth-year class.
“This [fourth-year] group will lead collectively. They’ve already taken ownership of leading as a class, and I’m happy with their efforts,” she said.
Along with the efforts of the new fourth-year class, Crooks said that the incoming first-year class will have a huge impact on the team.
“Our class of 2022 is collectively poised to make an impact. They came in very fit and are a skillful group. As a whole, they are talented, competitive and excited for the opportunity to play at the college level. We will see how they adjust to their first season as student-athletes, but I’m very pleased with them. We’re going to see many of them earning playing time very early in the season,” she said.
Crooks also added that she focused on self-development this offseason. The key to being a successful college athlete is putting in work in and out of the season according to Crooks.
Several key players will return this year who will look to continue the team’s development. Third-year goalkeeper Lauren Unterborn started every game in the net last season and posted three shutouts. Although the team lost leading scorer Zadina, it returns fourth-year forward Melanie Kukura and third-year forward Kimberly Chen, who were tied for second on the team in goals.
The team will open the season on the road at Kenyon College on Friday, Aug. 31.