Thacker ‘16: Wheaton Women’s Soccer prepared for upcoming season

A new season has brought about some newly inspired confidence for the  Women’s Soccer team. “We definitely want to win NEWMAC’s”, stated Goalkeeper Lauren Thacker ’16. The Junior keeper made it clear that this isn’t some pipe dream, or just a clichéd statement every player with enough media training tells the press. The team believes they are going to win the NEWMAC tournament this season. “All of us are super confident from beating Roger Williams, working hard, and beating Saint Joe’s by such a big margin,” said Thacker. “We’re going to win it.” However, they certainly aren’t percieved as the odds on favorites, as Thacker admits, “I don’t think we’re even on the top chart [for NEWMAC rankings]. We only got one vote to win the NEWMAC tournament, and that was from our coach.”

 The rankings haven’t deterred the Lyons, who are looking to get back in the hunt after last year’s somewhat disappointing season. If anything, last season has served as a reminder; they’re motivated by the fact that they have something to prove. The habitual powerhouse suffered one of their few missteps during coach Luis Reis’ 18 year tenure, ending the 2013 year at 17-6-2, a record  that would leave plenty of teams satisfied. Butthat wasn’t good enough for the Lyons, as Thacker pointed out, “We didn’t make it into the NCAA tournament. That’s pretty heartbreaking.”

This year is shaping up to be different, the team is hungry to get back in the position they were in two seasons ago when they made the NCAA tournament. No team finds its way into the NCAA tournament acting complacent, which is something the Lyons are aware of. Opting not to bemoan last year, early in the season the team adopted a postivie outlook. When last season ended, the team immediately began to work for the next. That, along with dedicated preparation, is what Thacker believes will lead to a successful season. “A quote that I really like is, ‘Success is when opportunity and preparation meet’. I think a lot of it is preparing for the games, and also just having good team chemistry” said Thacker.

Even though the team clearly has aspirations to win the NEWMAC conference and make their return to the NCAA tournament, they aren’t taking anything for granted this year. “Every game is a big game for us. We never underestimate our opponents. We always go in [with that mentality], whether it’s against Williams, or we’re playing St. Joe’s, who’s new on the schedule” said Thacker.  It’s not just a change in mentality or the hours of preparation that the team goes through each week that has the Lyon’s looking to go further this year than last; depth plays a big part in the equation as well. “This year we have a lot of depth, which is what we’ve lacked the last two years.” explained Thacker. “There’s been kind of a gap between the starting team and the bench team, but this year, there’s so many people. Coach can look around and put her in and we have confidence that she’ll make the right move, she’ll play well, she’ll do everything she can. So depth is a big thing, which is pretty awesome.” In a sport like soccer, where bodies get tired fast, depth can make or break a team. Especially at the Division III level, the ability to confidently cycle through your roster is a game changer.

The team’s preparation and overall commitment to excellence paid off early as the Lyons came out of the starting gate fast, winning their first three games in impressive fashion including two decisive wins: a shutout against St. Joseph’s of Maine 5-0 and a 5-1 win over Bridgewater State. Last week proved to be a challenge for the team, suffering a close defeat to bitter rival Williams, as well as an overtime loss to Eastern Nazerene. The Lyons responded well with a 1-0 win over Salem State this past weekend. The team is going to have to pull out all the stops this week as they look to bounce back with games against Trinity on Wednesday and New Paltz State on Saturday at home. The team will open up conference play against WPI on the 27th.

When asked why someone should attend one of the team’s games,Thacker responded simply, “we never give up, we keep fighting whether it’s five-zero us or five-zero against us.”