Tension runs high as the scoreboard counts down. Legs become weak as the last miles of the season tread up and down the field. After 74 minutes of tough competition, the deadlock is suddenly broken as the game-winning goal slides into the back of the net.
After overcoming injuries, hard loses and a disappointing season compared to last year’s fourth place Southland Conference finish, the Lady Demon Soccer team secured a single goal to give them a win over Central Arkansas in the season’s final game.
The Lady Demons finished with six wins and 12 losses overall, and two wins and nine losses in Southland Conference play.
“The season was very interesting; it didn’t go as we thought it would go,” senior Cache’ Haley said. “We came in thinking we were going to dominate, especially because of where we stood last year.”
Freshman midfielder Alexis Weaver agreed with Haley.
“The season has been rough for us,” she said. “We didn’t win some games that we should have.”
Even though it has been a rough few months for the Lady Demons, Head Coach George Van Linder is now looking to the future of the program.
“The future is bright, and I think that’s what the seniors wanted more than anything: to establish our culture and bring players into our top quality. And we certainly have that,” Van Linder said. “The seniors may not be going out on the positive note that they wanted to, but they helped create a legacy for years to come.”
Haley said the attacking portion during offensive play is something they struggled with.
“Attacking wise, we had so many shots in the attacking third,” she said. “But we [also] have the most goals scored on us.”
For Weaver and Van Linder, it was conference play which was the turning point.
“Conference took us by surprise because we trained so hard, it got super serious and real,” the freshman said.
“The first three or four games of the conference season, we came out on the short end of close games,” Van Linder said. “Then we realized that we’re a little behind the eight ball, and there was some shock.”
Team members said there were moments through hardships which made the season worth the struggles and allowed for team bonding to last.
“We went on a [trip] without cell phones for two or three days,” Haley said. “It was a good bonding session for us.”
Van Linder reflected on the season as a whole.
“[My favorite part was] being with the team,” he said. “They’re a great group of girls [who] represent the athletic department and university well.”
Though the Lady Demons ended their season on a happy note with the 1-0 win against Central Arkansas, they face a potential challenge for next season with the loss of 10 graduating seniors.