After experiencing what could possibly be their toughest weekend of the season, the women’s soccer team cannot help but look on the bright side.
With the team losing 2-1 to No. 12 Santa Clara and 6-0 to No. 3 Stanford, head coach Paula Wilkins hopes they can learn from the experience and take advantage of future opportunities.
The women’s soccer team struggled this past weekend in the Stanford Nike Invitational, managing only one goal in 180 minutes of play. Wilkins, overall, did not regret making such a hard schedule, but in fact wanted to test her team with top competition.
“Obviously we had a challenging weekend in California … we wanted to design it that way. We wanted to play some of the best teams in the country to prepare us for the Big Ten and show us some of our weaknesses,” Wilkins said.
Giving up eight goals will help highlight some of their weaknesses, but Wilkins believes it shows the team what they really need to work on and the pace they need to play at to be a successful team.
“It’s a turning point for us in the season, especially going into the Big Ten,” Wilkins said. “It’s not going to get much more difficult than playing one of the best teams in the country. Starting eight freshman and sophomores in that environment … it’s a great learning experience. I think it was better than playing some team we would easily control.”
With Stanford behind them, the women are now looking forward to this Friday at “Pac the Mac,” where bleachers will be placed on the field so fans will be able to get up close and personal with all the action for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams. Men’s soccer coach Todd Yeagley loves the idea and is excited for the effect it could have on his team.
“I think it is a great addition to the program to allow students to get closer to the match,” Yeagley said. “Indiana’s going to be coming in with a lot of firepower so it’s going to be an exciting match. I think the crowd will really give us the boost that we’re going to need.”
Leading off a double-header with Purdue followed by the men’s team against Indiana, they are starting off at a fast pace but looking forward to packing “the Mac,”
“Again,” Wilkins added. “I think that’s the best way to start it, being at a high pace, not easing into it. I’d rather dive in than tiptoe.”
The team’s struggles may be due to youth — starting eight freshmen and sophomores — but Wilkins can see their talent.
“I see flashes of really good stuff … they just don’t know how to do it consistently,” Wilkins said.
The men’s soccer team also had a difficult weekend, but with much greater success, beating Oakland and getting the draw with No. 9 Santa Barbara.
Yeagley is proud of the team for what they have accomplished, but is also looking ahead to opening Big Ten play on Friday against Indiana. In his playing days, Yeagley suited up as a Hoosier so there are a lot of emotions surrounding Friday’s game.
“I’m trying to tell the team that it’s just one game and that’s what it is, but there are certainly a lot of subplots to this match,” Yeagley said. “I know that the team will be prepared for Indiana and we talk about all the time that these opportunities are ones you have to take a hold of and cherish every moment.”