UMW women’s club soccer defeated Christopher Newport University’s club team 1–0 on Saturday, Feb 4. Despite emerging victorious, the Eagles had to fight hard to kick off the season with a win.
“It was our first game and it was really cold,” said Club Soccer President Madison Pearsall, a junior nursing major. “I felt like we got a slow start because we weren’t all the way warmed up, but in the second half we picked it up a lot and we finally got to score.”
The game started in sub-20-degree temperatures that froze the turf field overnight, causing some players to slip and fall during warmup and the start of the game. The two teams were fairly matched throughout the first half as they each had several attempts on goal.
This was not the first time the two teams have faced off, as UMW traveled to Newport News, Va., in the fall, where they defeated Christopher Newport 2-1. Having beaten the Captains the last three times the teams faced off, UMW was confident coming into the match on Saturday. However, the Captains also seemed determined not to repeat their previous mistakes against the Eagles with an aggressive defensive line and more speed from their outside midfielders.
Ending the first forty minutes scoreless, UMW’s leadership tried to rouse up their slightly-frozen team at halftime and discuss what wasn’t working. Senior captain Rachel Battiston, former president and member of the team all four years, pointed out that the group’s lack of communication was hurting their ability to slow down Christopher Newport’s offense and move the ball up the field.
“Since it was our first game of the season we were getting back into things … but we really came together in the second half, ” said junior biomedical sciences major Abbey Orange.
It was almost as if a new Eagles team stepped onto the field for the second half. Yelling out support to teammates and moving the ball with more urgency, it wasn’t too long before junior Molly Murphy found the back of the net to give the Eagles a 1–0 lead.
Though no more goals were scored for the remainder of the half, UMW still dominated as Battiston and senior midfielder Emily Hemphill both had some close attempts. The final whistle blew and, after congratulating one another, the teams hurried to their heated cars.
The spectators also amplified the team’s energy with over 30 people coming out in the cold to support the team. They got particularly excited when goalie Krista Rodgers, a senior business administration major also on the varsity volleyball team, made her way to the goal for the second half.
“I’m a very competitive person, but I definitely prioritize having fun and staying active with my friends out here,” said Rodgers. She’s currently unsure of whether she’ll continue on the volleyball team. “It’s up in the air about if I’m going to stay another semester; if I’m not, I just want to stay active and try out a different sport.”
Like other club sports on campus, the team doesn’t have a coach, which is a plus for some players.
“What’s special about this sport and other club sports is that we don’t have a coach; it’s student-run,” said Orange. “My coach in high school made me not want to play anymore, and now coming here, it’s better because I don’t have a coach. We have the president and vice president and stuff, but they’re people we can talk to and be friends with.”
Players say the team’s closeness is an asset.
“I started it for fun,” said Orange. “But because it’s such a strong-knit group, it basically takes up a lot of my life.”
Pearsall, who sees a narrow portion of UMW students due to the class structure of the nursing major, said club soccer “is one of my main sources of finding people and getting to know people, so that’s why it’s so important to me that we all bond and that we’re all there for each other.”
Crossing their fingers for warmer weather, the women’s club team takes the field again this Saturday, Feb. 11 at noon with another home match against Longwood University.