Jayne Claire Vincent, Campus Carrier assistant sports editor
It’s the beginning of the season for both the men and women’s soccer teams. Both teams are eager to start and have been working to create community among their players.
This year both teams have several new recruits. The men’s team recruited 12 new players while the women’s team recruited 16. Kathy Brown, Head Women’s Soccer Coach, said that she loves this team.
“Even though there are a lot of new players this season, the returning players have done a great job at welcoming the freshmen and have created a strong, healthy environment. Overall, the team has a great soccer IQ. There are so many great, knowledgeable players to work with who are coachable and ready to sharpen their skills,” said Brown.
Last Wednesday, the women’s soccer team had their first scrimmage against Shorter. Coach Brown said she was pleased with what the team brought to the table since they performed with their natural instincts.
Senior Lyndsey Francingues, who plays forward, said, “I was surprised with how well the team had rhythm with switching plays and being able to rely on first year players”.
“Normally you have to rely on returners to make good plays and understand what the strength of the team is, but the freshmen are really contributing,” said Francingues.
There is already a strong bond off the field between the players which equates to an even stronger bond on the field. The team captains have done a great job at making sure everyone is included despite the large number of freshmen.
Compared to last season, Brown expects the team to improve more and exceed the recent third place ranking in the preseason Southern Athletic Association poll. Both Brown and Francingues believe the team is a contender to place in the championship.
When asked about what her goals are for this season Francingues said, “Win the championship and give it our all. We need to utilize each other’s best aspects on the field to get there. Rather than being selfish about play time we need to recognize how good of a team we are together to maximize our skills”.
The men’s team is also off to a great start. Richard Vardy, Men’s Head Soccer Coach, believes the men’s team already has very strong chemistry and unity. The men’s team did not see much playing time at last week’s scrimmage due to weather but will be playing two games in California on Sept. 3 and 5.
“The trip is an opportunity for the team to come together and grow an even stronger bond. I’m really looking forward to it,” said Vardy.
Last season the men’s team saw some challenges due to being burnt out from traveling. They were knocked out during the first round of the SAA conference, but Vardy has higher expectations for this season. This season there will be a better balance of home and away games for the team. The men will be able to be on campus and have the opportunity to be a part of student life.
With the loss of multiple players due to graduation, the team has many new recruits who are excited to be playing for Berry. Freshman Zac Adkins, who plays center back, is one of the new recruits. Like the women’s team, the men’s team has been very welcoming to the new players. “Returning players are open to letting the freshman in. There is a good sense of camaraderie,” Adkins said.
Adkins said he thinks the team has the talent to go all the way to the SAA championship.
“We have the individual talent, it’s whether we can put it all together on game day, bring our A game, and take it as serious as possible. The only team that might stand in our way is us,” said Adkins. The men’s soccer team has won the SAA championship three times since they joined the conference 10 years ago. When asked about the recent preseason SAA ranking of fourth place, Vardy said, “We’ve been ranked fifth before and won the conference. As long as we are maximizing the players potential we’ll be succeeding.”
The first women’s soccer game is on Sept. 1 against Emory University. The men’s next home game is Sept. 10 against Transylvania University.