With fresh faces and a chip on their shoulder, the Lady Crusaders will be seeking redemption for last season’s disappointing end.
Despite losing the final game of the 2009 NCCAA Regional Final and finishing with a record of 13-8, the North Greenville Women’s soccer team says they believe they are ready to take on a new season.
“It was frustrating,” said head coach Jesse McCormick of the 2-1 loss to Palm Beach Atlantic. “It was hard losing at the end, but it gives us something to work for this year.”
The Lady Crusaders have an abundance of freshman this season, but McCormick remains optimistic.
“I’m very happy with our team and what I’ve seen so far,” he said. “We have the ability to score goals, but it’s going to be important to keep everyone healthy.”
Forward Leah Ward, who led the team with 16 goals on 72 shots last season, says she believes the teams only weakness may be a lack of depth.
“There are only eight returning players so it’s like starting over as a team,” said Ward. “We’re very limited on subs, which is an important part of the game.”
Ward says having new players will require upperclassmen to step up and help lead the team. A role she won’t mind filling.
“There’s a stronger sense of leadership this season,” said Ward. “(Things) have run very smoothly through the pre-season.”
While the team is still learning to play together, McCormick says he wants them to focus on getting better.
“We want to improve every season,” said McCormick. “We have a good schedule this year and making it to the national tournament is something we’re shooting for.”
Ward says she would like another crack at the Regional Championship.
“If we all remain healthy, we can go far,” she said. “Our goal is to win Regionals.”
With minimal depth this season, McCormick says he hopes the Lady Crusaders can stay healthy for their season opener on Sep. 2 against Lander University at Pepsi Stadium in Tigerville.
“Our first game against Lander is going to be one of the toughest games this year,” said McCormick. “We would love to come away with a win right off the bat.”
North Greenville will get another shot at Palm Beach Atlantic in a Regional Championship rematch on Sep. 25, in Atlanta, GA. They will also have tough tests against Truett-McConnell College on Sep. 17 in Tigerville and battle with in-state rival Southern Wesleyan University on Oct. 2 in Central, SC.