Regals soccer team overcome COVID-19 outbreak

Eleanor Chan, Reporter

When the California Lutheran University women’s soccer team began their preseason preparations, 18 players tested positive for COVID-19, ceasing all preparations and practices. Despite the obstacle, the players were not discouraged to start the season.

“Our team didn’t have everyone at practice for a couple weeks and so that definitely affected chemistry,” senior forward Darya Rasoli said. 

Amidst the crisis, senior midfielder Janelle Gutierrez and senior forward Isabella Veljacic found a new appreciation for their health and well-being.

“I would say the outbreak affected our team with less numbers being able to practice and play in the game; however, it made those who were able to play be grateful of their situation and play for those who don’t get the chance to be there with the team,” Gutierrez said.

Veljacic said even though the outbreak took away valuable preseason time, it did not deter the team’s camaraderie. 

“When the outbreak happened, the most important thing was to not make anyone feel bad about catching COVID on our team,” Veljacic said. “Our main focus was to support each other, our togetherness never changed.”

Head Coach Frank Marino was able to continue coaching as he was not infected, however, he expressed sadness regarding the outbreak. 

“All it does is take one in a room and then all are infected. Unfortunately, the outbreak did affect our team in a lot of ways, we couldn’t practice with the whole team,” Marino said.

The players who tested positive missed two weeks of practice, and some had to sit out of games because they were unable to make practice and work on the game plays. 

However, this presented a unique opportunity for some members to get closer. 

“So it certainly affected the start to the season. Naturally, the team’s bond will get affected due to the outbreak. I will say, the one sort of random positive is the people that end up going to the COVID house together, ended up getting closer. And that wouldn’t have happened on the field,” Marino said. 

By the time their first game in Texas came around on Sept. 16, they had made up for the lost time.

“I would say by the time Texas came around, we were on an upward path from our COVID dilemmas, so it didn’t really affect us that much,” Rasoli said. 

In the end, Veljacic said the outbreak even strengthened the team’s chemistry. 

“I think going through something is what helped us work even harder to come together and ultimately did make our bond stronger,” Veljacic said. 

Gutierrez attributes the team’s spiritedness to the values of being a California Lutheran University Regal. 

“There were challenges because of half our time being separated due to COVID, but they came back harder and ready to play with us again as a team and I think that is what it means to be a part of the Regals soccer team,” Gutierrez said. 

The bond and passion of the women on the team is what made up for all the lost time, and with the COVID-19 outbreak now a thing of the past, Head Coach Frank Marino is hopeful for what lies ahead.   

“Our best is yet to come,” Marino said.