By Arielle Gordon
The academic year has hardly even begun, but the Colorado College women’s soccer team is already back to its winning ways. Last season, the Tigers won the first Colorado Cup in program history, but they exited the playoffs earlier than they had expected.
However, this season brings a fresh slate for the seasoned veterans (the Tigers have seven seniors on the roster) as well as the eager first-year players (there are eight newcomers on the team). Despite posting a 1–1 record in the preseason, CC has set their sights on winning their conference — the Mountain West — and making a longer playoff run this fall.
“We have a lot of team goals,” said midfielder Tayla Wheeler ’21. “I think the best way to sum them all up is that we want to win conference and make it to the postseason. If we accomplish our goals we will reach that.”
Their 2–0 record is a good start on the road to playoffs. On Friday, Aug. 23, the Tigers defeated the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders 2–1, and on Sunday, Aug. 25, they took down the Siena College Saints 3–1.
Forward Jaqui Hand ’22 was all the offense the Tigers would need to hold down the Islanders. Hand scored once in each half, and the Tigers, despite scoring an own goal, held the Islanders to just three shots. Midfielder Jenna Wilt ’21 assisted on Hand’s first goal, and her second was unassisted. Goalkeeper Abby Opperman ’23 made her career debut as she started the game, before ceding to co-captain Molly Hiniker ’20 after half-time. After a ball rolled past Opperman, defender Camille Weaver ’21 jumped up at the perfect moment to head the ball and keep it out of the goal.
“My favorite moment was our warm up Friday night,” Wheeler said. “The entire team was buzzin’ and the energy was indescribable.”
On Sunday, the Tigers received three goals from three different players, all in the first half, to secure their lead. Wilt scored just nine minutes into the game, followed by Wheeler’s header just 53 seconds later, and finally forward Catie McDonald ’20 scored on a free kick in the 25th minute. Defender Kiley Suter ’20 assisted on Wilt’s first goal of the season and then Wilt assisted on Wheeler’s first goal of the season. Hiniker played the entire game and successfully stopped all five shots taken against her.
Weaver and Wheeler have each played all 180 minutes so far this season.
The Tigers are out to prove their preseason ranking wrong. The Mountain West 2019 Predicted Order of Finish places CC in eighth place, out of 12 teams; however, the in-season rankings are updated each week, and they have placed themselves in a position to improve.
A well-deserved week off of games will allow the Tigers to rest before hosting Francis University on Sunday, Sept. 1 on Washburn Field. It will be the third of five straight home games to open the season.