PHOTOS BY DAVE REED
Last Friday, the Colorado College women’s soccer team played a frustratingly low-scoring game against Louisiana Tech University. Even on their home field, the Tigers could not break past the 0-0 score throughout the entire game or the first overtime. Finally, the tie was broken in the second overtime by junior midfielder Kaeli Vandersluis, who sent the ball flying into the upper left corner of the net, scoring the winning, and only, goal. This goal not only won the game; it won the women’s soccer team a share of the Conference USA championship.
Vandersluis’ teammates rushed onto the field to grab her in a celebratory hug. When asked what was going through her mind after scoring this crucial goal, Vandersluis said, “I was really excited that I knew we clinched at least a share of the conference title, and I knew that this team is special, and we have the potential to accomplish greater goals.”
She was right. The Tigers went on to claim the full Conference USA regular season championship on Sunday.
The Tigers played University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in their last regular season road game. UTEP won with a score of 2-1. The Tigers led for a while with a score of 1-0 but were unable to hold on to this lead. Vandersluis also scored this goal, the only Tiger goal of the game, with a penalty kick.
While the Tigers did lose this final game, ending their streak of 11 consecutive victories, they were still crowned the 2013 Conference USA champions due to a loss by North Texas against University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The Tigers’ record in the Conference ended at 7-1-1.
This is the Tigers’ second consecutive Conference USA championship. Last season, the Tigers won the championship for the first time in program history. When asked what has contributed to the team’s tremendous success, Vandersluis said, “I think the team chemistry has played a huge role in our success. We’re having so much fun together on and off the field and that contributes to how we play with each other.”
When asked to elaborate on the dynamic among the team, Vandersluis said, “We all play for each other, and there aren’t any superstars on the team; we play together as a team.”
Indeed, the team has been playing together very well. Colorado College is ranked fourth in the Conference USA with an average of 1.88 goals scored per game. CC is also ranked first both in goals allowed (a mere 11) and in goals-against average (0.74).
The team has also done impressively on an individual level. Vandersluis leads the league in assists with nine overall. Junior midfielder Jessie Avers is first in the conference with five game-winning goals. Sophomore goalkeeper Kate Scheele started in all 17 games and leads the conference with 10 shutouts.
The team consists of 25 players: eight seniors, seven juniors, six sophomores, and four freshmen. The seniors had their final home appearance on Steward Field this Thursday, which was the end of the regular season.
Next week, the Tigers will be at Rice University in Houston for the 2013 USA Conference Championship. Their opening match will be on Wednesday, Nov. 6.
Hannah Westerman, Staff Writer