A four-game trip to the Hawaiian Islands left PLNU women’s soccer team with a 10-4-3 record, making this next match crucial for any playoff hopes. They will finish up their regular season schedule Saturday with a match against Azusa Pacific University.
“We came in a bit more unprepared than usual in regards to our fitness and having to deal with some injuries at the beginning of season,” said assistant coach Amanda Schindler in an email interview. “Trying to recover from a slower start to the season and finding team chemistry among unexpected injuries was a challenge but something the girls took on with strength and perseverance to get them to where they are now.”
Injuries remained steady from the beginning of the year and throughout. While for most teams a setback like that results in poor performance, the team proved to overcome it. During the first eight matches, they posted a 3-2-3 record.
“My biggest challenge personally this year was coming into the season with an injury. I wasn’t able to play during our two-week training camp, and I missed the first few preseason games,” said defender Morgan Pearce, a Psychology major, in an email interview. “Some key players have missed games here and there with injuries, and Easton Kawawaki and Larissa Lakin have season-long injuries.”
In the following eight games, the women’s team found a groove, improving to 10-2-3 after eight-match shutout and seven-match winning streaks. During this period both Pearce and senior goal keeper Ariel Oriarte would bring home PacWest Conference Defender of the Week honors. They would also rank as high as fifth in their region. Led by senior forward captain Cori Deason, the team showed their remarkable resilience.
“Being a team that has won back-to-back PacWest Championships puts a lot of pressure on the team. By no means do I think we couldn’t handle that pressure, but I do believe it put a huge target on our backs,” said Deason in an email interview. “I realized that it wasn’t the stats I wanted to be remembered for. I want to be remembered for leaving a positive impact on the team’s culture, and with each person on the team.”
With one game remaining, the chance of a playoff berth is as unclear as ever. Ranked fifth in the region, there will not be an official decision until next week. Their final game against Azusa Pacific University is on the road Saturday, November 5 at 2:30 p.m.