Santa Cruz Trip Provides Optimism for Women’s Soccer

Mario Santos-Davidson, Sports Writer

Photo contributed by Ellie Fix

After finishing with a disappointing 3-15-2 record and zero road wins during the 2016 season, the Whitman women’s soccer team looks to bounce back in 2017. With only two seniors on the roster and 17 out of the 24 players being underclassmen, the Blues are keeping an eye on the future, with many of the younger players getting significant playing time.

Photo contributed by Ellie Fix

The young squad began the 2017 season with a trip to Santa Cruz, Calif. to face a pair of schools from the golden state: Chapman University and UC Santa Cruz. Despite getting significantly out-shot in both games, Whitman battled to keep the games close, eventually losing 1-0 to Chapman in the opener and 2-1 to host UC Santa Cruz in an overtime nail-biter the following day. The team competed admirably and demonstrated great resilience, but the results were not what they had hoped. Thomson was still pleased with her team’s efforts, despite the two losses.

“Although we lost both games by one goal, it was a great trip. We battled our opponents in the 105-110 degree heat. Overall, I thought our team played well,” said Thomson.

Fellow senior captain Saba Zewdie shared similar thoughts on the two games. “I thought we had some really good moments. We’re still working on consistency but I think all the pieces are there,” stated Zewdie.

While the games may not have gone as planned, trips like these are always about more than just the results themselves. Traveling across state lines with the team provides an opportunity to spend time together and bond in a unique environment away from Whitman and the other obligations associated with being on a college campus.

“The preseason trip is when the rest of the team really starts to get to know the first-year class, and the first-years also begin to know each other better as well…While it can be difficult to balance school and soccer life when we travel, some of my most treasured memories from college are from the experiences I shared with this team,” Thomson added.

Another unique aspect of the trip was the team’s location in Santa Cruz and its proximity to the coast. The team was able to enjoy a couple of days at the beach together, which according to first-year Camille Marshall was a success.

“It was a great bonding experience, I liked the ocean,” said Marshall.

Photo contributed by Ellie Fix

The team’s resilience was on display during the return trip to Walla Walla. Due to many delays and unpredictable changes, they had to ride a bus back instead of simply flying from Seattle. Even with the team not making it back to Whitman until 4:30a.m. on a school day, nobody complained despite the exhaustion.

With the opening games behind them, the women’s soccer team now shifts its focus towards Northwest Conference play, starting the weekend of September 16-17 with home games against Lewis & Clark and Willamette.

“I’m optimistic, everyone in the conference is 0-0-0 right now and I think we have a lot of new and returning talent,” said Zewdie.

Without much experience on the roster, Whitman will rely on its youthful energy and drive to compete in the Northwest Conference and improve upon their 3-11-2 conference record from a season ago.