The No. 25 Trojans women’s soccer team clinched the third seed in the Crossroads League Tournament following their 6-2 win against Goshen on Saturday, Oct. 28.
On the same night, the Trojans honored their five seniors; Hannah Brackenbury, Emma Goebel, Claire Massey, Caroline Monberg and Chloe Sena. Throughout their Taylor career, the seniors have taken the field together almost 300 times and claimed their 41st win together against Goshen.
Head Coach Scott Stan also left the night in honor with his 250th win and 169th win as head coach for the Trojans. He is currently in his 24th year of his collegiate coaching career.
Senior goalie Hannah Brackenbury explained that senior year on the team brings a new perspective and has given her a new appreciation for the time she has had on the team.
She also explained that this year has come with a sense of freedom and joy that pushes her and her teammates even harder toward their goals.
Brackenbury has 49 saves this season and a total of 172 throughout her Taylor career.
Leah McQuade, a freshman forward, described her first year at Taylor as a welcoming experience. She said the team has become a second family to her.
“We view each as family and sisters in Christ rather than just teammates,” McQuade said. “I think it’s way deeper than just girls you go out on the field with and we genuinely love each other. So we want what’s best for each other.”
McQuade has started in five games during her freshman season and has connected with the back of the net eight times this season.
Ranked fourth in the conference, the Trojans have a record of 5-2-2, with two draws against No. 3 Marian and No. 5 Mt. Vernon Nazarene and two losses against No. 2 Indiana Wesleyan and No. 1 Spring Arbor.
They have learned some valuable lessons from the draws and losses this year along with their multiple victories.
“I think sometimes it’s good to have those draws and losses to kind of humble yourself in a way a little bit,” McQuade said. “Knowing that these teams are good and it’s in our conference, one of the most competitive in the NAIA, I think we’ve learned that yes, we lost, but we need to go into every game with a mindset that we’re not going to lose this game.”
Mindset has been a key focus for the team this season.
Brackenbury explained that Taylor’s mindset is different compared to Div. I or II teams. She said that those divisions of teams tend to only talk about winning and get so caught up in the idea of succeeding that they forget to celebrate.
She explained that Div. I or II teams have trouble staying present because there’s always another title to claim or championship to win.
“It’s an endless chase, if that's what’s going to fulfill you at the end of the day, it won’t work,” Brackenbury said. “Something that is special about Taylor is that when you’re centering your program around Christ, you get a true fulfillment for doing something for the Lord.”
McQuade said that the team is working on shooting and testing the goalkeeper. She explained that they don’t have to have the perfect shot, but that they have to take every chance they get because they never know what could happen.
Brackenbury is working on leading through communication for her team. She also explained that she has to keep a good mindset of her own.
When retrieving the ball after allowing a goal, she reminds herself that her reaction will affect her teammates’ mindset and to respond with grace.
“Do you build other people up, or are you unkind?” Brackenbury said. “Are encouraging things coming out of your mouth or sassy things? (I am) making that choice deliberately to be a witness to Jesus.”
She has learned that those trials are when her reactions can spread God’s light the most to her teammates and others.