Women’s soccer brings experiences back to the USA

admin

Jeff Neukom

Tschüss. German for “goodbye,” this phrase proved difficult for the Illinois Wesleyan University women’s soccer team to accept this past summer.  Over the course of one week, the women’s team became integrated into the customs and lifestyle of Germany and the Czech Republic. A mere seven days in Europe were enough to make it hard to say goodbye.

For a large portion of the team, it was their first trip abroad. Sophomore Cassidy Tomkins commented on her initial experience, saying,

“It was really cool to see how soccer truly is a lifestyle in Europe— it’s like a universal language almost.”

The team visited Allianz Arena, home to German soccer powerhouse Bayern Munich, playing clubs MTV Diessen (Germany) and Sparta Prague (Czech capital). Despite the differences in culture, the three teams played against each other as if it were any other match— in large part because of their profound love for the game.

The trip served as a life lesson as well as a life experience, as the Titans encountered more than a few adversities along the way. After their arrival, they were forced to stave off the grip of slumber for 30 hours as they toured Munich and organized last minute logistics. Over the span of the week, the team became acquainted with early morning departure times, even to the point where 8:00 a.m. was considered sleeping in.

Despite the challenges of acclimating to a new culture and time zone, it was certainly an experience that the team will still be talking about in three years, when they prepare for the next trip.

Upon making their return stateside, the Titans were welcomed with a pre-season national ranking of 20 according to NCAA.com, in addition to be second in the CCIW pre-season standing behind the Wheaton College thunder.  While they certainly still have things to prove after tough losses to  Washington U. of St. Louis and  Wheaton, the team has adopted a mentality of blocking out the opinions of others. Tomkins went on to say,

“Only we can control how good we will be this year and while we definitely have a great deal of potential and a lot to show this season, we are going to come out as if the expectations surrounding our team don’t exist.”

To kick off the season, the team played a pair of games at the Depauw Classic in Greencastle, Indiana. They played their first game Friday night, falling 1-0 to the Polar Bears of Ohio Northern, despite posting a 14-3 shot advantage. The Titans showed flashes of good play, but in the end, they were left shaking their heads as their opponent ran away with the victory.

Despite a less than desirable start to the season, the weekend was far from a wash. The Titans came back with fury and pummeled the Panthers of Birmingham-Southern 3-1, with two of the goals coming in a two-minute span to break the deadlock. The game served as a confidence booster, reminding the team how dangerous they can be when playing to their potential. As is the case with early season games, the ladies came away knowing their strengths as well as recognizing areas of improvement.

Perhaps this knowledge already paid dividends as the Titans returned to Neis Field for their first home game of the regular season. They made short work of non-conference foe St. Mary’s of Indiana, cruising to a 4-1 victory.  Sophomore striker Skyler Tomko notched two goals while first-year Cassandra Leishman and sophomore Sydney Fox added one a piece.

The Titans will now look to build off of their recent success and channel it into their remaining non-conference play.  You can catch the Illinois Wesleyan women’s soccer team in action at Neis field this Saturday at 1:00 p.m. against visiting Earlham College.