By Andrew Nevins | Echo
Taylor University Women's Soccer is entering the 2018-19 season with high expectations for themselves after a semifinal exit in last year's Crossroads League tournament last November.
Their goal for the season is much loftier than another exit in the semifinals, but the team does not sense much of a need to alter their preparations for the season.
"I don't think there's any different approach to what we do," Head Coach Scott Stan said. "Obviously, the goal is always to win the finals and get to nationals but the way that we prepare for that needs to be the same, especially this early in the season."
Senior midfielder Emily Calvani praised the leadership of the team's captains, saying that the emphasis on team chemistry on and off the field is doing great things for the team.
According to Calvani, the team feels that practices have been preparing them well for the long and competitive season ahead as everyone seems to be getting something out of every practice.
"I think they (practices) have been tailored to each kind of player and it works for everyone and everyone is getting better," Calvani said.
The Trojans lost several players due to injury last season and are making it a goal to keep as many players healthy as possible. Stan has been emphasizing the importance of making sure everyone is better by the start of conference play and not broken.
As a result of its successful offseason, the team is ready to embrace the challenge of making it to Alabama for the NAIA National Tournament later this fall. According to Stan, the Trojans realize that they play in one of the toughest conferences in the nation and will face several teams who are competing for a spot at nationals.
"I think it's one of the hardest conferences in America," Stan said about the Crossroads League. "Because you may have a bad team, but most conferences have seven or eight bad teams and just a few that are actually playing for the championship, I think here four or five are playing to win it."
Being successful requires more than good conditioning and crisp passing. Junior midfielder Danielle Toren understands this and thinks one of the team's greatest strengths is not related to anything on the field.
"Relationships," Toren said about the team's key to success. "We've already seen that play out in our team chemistry on the field and there's a component to that, obviously you need talent and hard work to be successful but usually when you have good relationships they push you to work harder. And so, things just stem from relationships; relationships with each other, and relationships with the Lord. That's why we work, we work for each other, and we work for the Lord."
The Trojans have played three non-conference games so far this season, tying the first and winning the next two easily. The former was a matchup with Northwestern Ohio, the third ranked team in the country. The game would have been Taylor's if not for a late penalty goal by Northwestern Ohio.
Toren feels like that game helped the team realize its identity and potential for success.
"Starting off with a really hard team is a great way to (realize) that that's the tempo we need to play at this season," Toren said. "We don't have any easy games and we will never think we can play slow or down to their level."
Taylor resumes non-conference play on September 5 at IUPUI and plays their first conference game against Spring Arbor on September 26.