This was not a lost season for DePauw University women’s soccer. Yes, they missed the playoffs. And yes, they finished with a losing record (5-8-2). But this roller coaster ride of a season proved to be just what the Tigers needed.
“Though our record doesn’t show it, I think this was the best team in the three years I have been at DePauw,” junior forward and defender Stephanie Martin said.
Despite going 1-4 in their first five games and losing senior goalkeeper Emma Cooper to injury, the Tigers managed to keep in the playoff hunt until the last regular-season game, which was in part due to the team’s chemistry.
“Team culture improved this year,” said junior goalkeeper Sarah Cho, who took over for Cooper. “The team was closer to each other this year than it has been in past years.”
Despite their final record, Head Coach Megan McCormick believes the talent was always there for the team.
“I think for much of the season, we were lacking an essential belief in our talent, individually and collectively, and that caused some hesitancy to put everything on the line in matches to compete,” McCormick said. “We found that in our last two or three matches, but unfortunately, it was already too late in some ways.”
If the Tigers played the entire season with the confidence they had at the end, their season could have ended with a different record.
“When looking back at multiple games, we can honestly say, ‘That’s a game we should have won,” Martin said.
The Tigers’ 1-0 loss in overtime to Denison University this past Saturday that sealed the end of their season summed up the team’s frustration. Even after battling and playing with grit down to the last whistle, it just wasn’t enough.
“Trying to win everything at the last minute didn’t really work for us,” Cooper said. “Next year we need to show up at the beginning of the season and play every game like it’s the championship.”
With Cho prepared to be DePauw’s starting goalkeeper and a class of incoming freshman ready to compete for starting minutes, women’s soccer next year could prove to be a team to watch for.
“I am excited for the leadership role … I can have on the team next season,” Cho said. “I hope everyone comes to preseason in great shape and ready to win games and make it to the NCAAs.”
Next fall, McCormick wants her team to pick up where they left off this season.
“With a wholehearted belief in our potential and a willingness to really compete, but starting on day one,” McCormick said. “If we do that, it's realistic to start setting our sights on NCAC regular season and tournament success.
Sophomore forward Elizabeth Seewer, who led the team with five goals, shares her coach’s goal.
“Hopefully [next season] will just be like hitting the play button instead of the restart button,” Seewer said.
Although there are already high hopes for next year, the disappointment from this season still lingers.
“As a team we deserved more than what the results played out to be,” Seewer said. “We are losing a very impactful senior class this year, and … they didn’t get the ending of the season they wanted.”
Besides Cooper, the Tigers will also graduate defender Ryan Konicek and forward/midfielder Chloe Jacob.
“I think I’ll miss the people on the team the most,” she said. “I know it sounds cheesy … but the soccer team was the first group of people I hung out with and got to know when I was a freshman.”
Cho and the other juniors planning to return to return next season are ready to take on next season and welcome the incoming freshmen. The team will especially look to get even with Wittenberg University for edging out the Tigers for the fourth seed in this year’s conference tournament.
“We can only continue to move forward,” Martin said. “It’s time to get ready for next season.”