By Jake Geiger, Staff Writer
Xavier women’s soccer is looking forward to “hitting the ground running” when their season starts in August, according to Head Coach Nate Lie.
“We’re just excited to get back on the field to make it right,” Lie said. Last season, the women’s team went 3-6 in an atypical spring season.
Lie said his team will be ready for the upcoming season, stressing the importance of the physical fitness of the players, who report to campus in August.
“Our returning players know our overall team’s success is based on what kind of shape they are in,” Lie said. “We can hit the ground running if they come back pretty much ready to play.”
In his view, trust between the coaching staff and players will also be crucial for a successful season.
“We trust our players. This means a lot to them and they are heavily invested,” Lie said. “They have ambitious goals…I am confident they will come back ready to go.”
Lie made it apparent that he built his program with no excuses, but many challenges were present in the spring beyond the pandemic.
“We did not play a home game until the second to last game and with no indoor facility; we literally could not practice due to a snowstorm in February,” he said.
In 2019, Xavier made it to Round 32 round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Kansas 3-0. To return to that level, Lie emphasized the importance of hard work.
Lie also highlighted several rising seniors who are capable of stepping up this season.
“Goalkeeper Olivia Jenkins, center backs Grace Brauer and Molly McLaughlin and Brooke Sroka all started in 2019. Now, they are our leaders and will set the tone. They will take us however far we want to go.”
The rising sophomore class on the team represents a “second wave” of the talent and drive of the seniors, Lie said.
“Sonya Vargas, Elise Lee (and) Mackenzie Tucker are a few that I expect to earn more playing time when fully motivated,” he added.
Lie anticipates that the women’s season opener at Saint Louis University (SLU) will present an exciting challenge, and he sees a difficult matchup in Georgetown, calling the school the “goliath of the conference.”
“They are always the team to beat. They are a top 10 to 15 program. But, we take no one lightly in this conference,” he added.
Lie says the program’s mentality is: “Attack what you can control and do not make excuses.” He plans on sending this message to his players the first days they arrive for preseason.
“Our success in the past was due to being the hungrier team and the one most willing to sacrifice for each other. I think we need to return to being the hungrier team, similar to 2019,” Lie said. “We put together a good enough schedule to make the tournament, so I am excited for our girls.”