There seems to be a pretty clear consensus within the Xavier athletic community that this season for the women’s soccer team was its most successful in program history. The team set the bar high, and with several returning players for next year, expectations will rise.
The team was guided by first-year head coach Nate Lie, who actually took over the program shortly before the season started. Xavier started off strong and never looked back: They never had a losing record at any point during the season. From Sept. 24-Oct. 14, the Musketeers went on a five-match unbeaten streak that included three straight wins and two draws.
Each year has been a building block for the next year, and as conference play started, it was clear that there was an opportunity to advance the program leaps and bounds this season.
The Big East conference tournament only consists of six teams, and Xavier has never taken part in it since joining the Big East in 2013. In fact, it had not played in a conference tournament since all the way back in 2003, when Xavier was still part of the Atlantic 10.
The Musketeers started off conference play strong, winning three straight games to position themselves well. After a little bit of a slide that saw two ties and a loss, the Musketeers rebounded against Seton Hall for their fourth win of the conference season. That was the first time Xavier had ever reached four wins within the conference.
Two extremely hard-fought matches closed out the regular season, but both results were an excruciating 1-0 loss. Despite dropping its final two matches, Xavier had clinched a spot in the Big East tournament and traveled to Milwaukee to take on Marquette in the quarterfinals.
That game, played this past Sunday, was a difficult one for the fifth-seeded Musketeers. Marquette scored in the 11th minute and added two more goals later in the match. Speaking to the strength of Xavier’s team this year, this was the first time since Sept. 8 it had allowed more than one goal.
“Playing in our Big East tournament game was a really special experience,” junior Andie Kennard said. “It has been a goal of ours since the beginning of preseason, and having a winning season was something we also strived for. It was really cool to lace up knowing we accomplished those goals together despite a lot of adversity with injuries. I am so proud of our team and how much we grew together.”
While the 3-0 loss was a difficult way to end the season, there was so much to be excited about. With a final record of 8-8-4, this was the first time they finished with a record of .500 or better since 2013. Freshman Sydney Schembri played well enough to earn Big East Freshman of the Year honors. The season has come to a close for the Musketeers, but there is much to look forward to in the future.
By: Paul Fritschner ~Staff Writer~