The successful season last year put the team in the 19th spot in the nation before it came to a heartbreaking end. After losing in the third round at the NCAA Sweet Sixteen tournament, the California Lutheran University women’s soccer team is back and ready to make a name for itself in the 2018 season.
After losing six graduating seniors, the Regals have regrouped and recently completed their first tournament in Minnesota, going 1-1-0 overall. With a win against competitive Augsburg University (1-0) and a tie against Hamline University (0-0), Head Coach Frank Marino is excited to move into league play and see what the team can do.
“We had a really good win against Augsburg. They’re a good team; they won their conference last year,” Marino said. “We played good against Hamline, but unfortunately we couldn’t score which was kind of a bummer… but to get out of there without a loss was a positive.”
Though the Regals struggled to find the back of the net during their first preseason tournament, the defense held its own with great plays by junior midfielder Maddy Griess and sophomore goalkeeper Gabby Flores.
“We started at a level that was very high comparative to other years where we had to go through the tryout process a little bit more, so we had a lot of talent and practice was very competitive right away,” Griess said. “The new players that we got; they’re very technical and they bring in a lot of key elements that we were missing.”
After a strong showing at their Minnesota tournament, the Regals are excited to continue to play and show everyone what they are truly made of this year.
“Looking toward this season, I think our team is going to be pretty tough, and not just physically and technically, but mentally too,” Flores said. “We have a lot of players who are again being challenged every day for their position—just the way it should be on any team.”
The Regals played their first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) game on Wednesday, Sept. 5, ending in a 0-0 tie against Occidental College, maintaining their undefeated title.
“It was our first SCIAC game and I think that with the way the schedule is this year, playing that game a week earlier than we usually start, I think we didn’t play as well as I would’ve liked,” Marino said. “We’re still trying to find ourselves—find what kind of personnel works in what positions and that’s where we’re at.”
Though they are still working out some kinks, the Regals attribute much of their success on the field to their team chemistry and culture as a whole.
“We have a really good team chemistry,” Griess said. “That’s one of the things that we pride ourselves on is being able to make the new girls… feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, that they are a part of the team.”
Looking toward the rest of the season, Marino and the Regals are ready to make a new name for themselves.
“This year, there’s a lot of pressure from the previous success of last year and the previous years,” Marino said. “We’re early in the season and we’re still kind of searching for what’s our identity… this team is going to find its own niche and its own path and its own identity.”