The Orion

Women’s soccer team succeeds despite struggles

Pooja Patel keeps control of the ball during the 'Cats practice. Photo credit: Jenelle Kapellas

Pooja Patel keeps control of the ball during the 'Cats practice. Photo credit: Jenelle Kapellas

Jordan Jarrell

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Chico State women’s soccer found success early in their season, with a strong defense and aggressive offense paving the way for their triumph. The team had a promising preseason, with one win and one tie, and have continued stride as they hold a 2-0-1 overall record early in the season.

Head coach Kim Sutton said that she believed a successful defensive strategy to be the best indicator of how successful a team is, instead of game play statistics.

“The statistics don’t always preclude the winner,” Sutton said.

Sutton said that soccer is a sport that is played differently in comparison to any other sport because the game is not ruled by a single defensive or offensive tactic.

While Sutton prefers a strong defense, junior forward Pooja Patel, the ‘Cats lead scorer from last year, was torn between the importance of the both working together on the field.

“I’m a little bit biased toward offense because I play forward and scoring goals is a great way to win games. A strong defense to support the offense is crucial,” Patel said.

Senior defensive player Brooke Coelho said that she felt both sides were equally important to the team’s success.

“When the defense is locked in, it makes it easier for the offensive players,” Coelho said.

The ‘Cats lost four seniors coming into the season, and had 15 first year athletes enter the program. With a majority of the team comprised of underclassmen, Sutton is relying on experienced players to fill the roles in leadership.

“It’s always hard during the off season dealing with a significant loss of players, leadership roles from returning players are an absolute must,” Sutton said.

For Patel, the main concern for the first year players is understanding the team’s chemistry.

“Communication is very important to help things run smoothly on and off the field. We are still working hard on building the team’s chemistry so they don’t feel like they have just been thrown in the mix,” Patel said.

Coelho was also concerned with the new players taking the field because of the physical and mental demand of playing at the collegiate level.

“Coming in as a freshman, they might not come in fully committed and knowing how to make themselves a percent better each day,” Coelho said.

Although Patel and Coelho showed concern over team chemistry and the dedication of the first year students, they both said they felt more prepared for the season compared to last year.

“I think the only noticeable difference that I can see is that we are a lot further ahead right now than we were last year, both physically and mentally,” Coelho said.

While the ‘Cats attempt to boost team chemistry and use underclassmen to fill leadership roles on the team, their time is limited as their preseason comes to a close. Chico State will have their first league match on Sept. 16 against San Francisco State University.

Jordan Jarrell can be reached at [email protected], or on Twitter @ChicoOrionJJ.

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Women’s soccer team succeeds despite struggles