By Andrew Edwards
With a fresh roster and new determination, Whatcom Community College’s women’s soccer team started the season strong, rising to first place in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges or NWAACC.
“We have a lot of talent on the team,” said Emily Zimmerman, a new member of the team who began her first quarter at Whatcom this fall.
Since the start of the season on August 23, the team has played nine games with a record of six wins, one loss and two draws, just barely surpassing their main rival Everett Community College, said Tia Brogna, who is starting her second year with the team.
Brogna said other potential threats to Whatcom’s first place position include Skagit Valley College and Shoreline Community College, which currently ranks third in the league. “We can’t afford to overlook them,” she said.
“The girls have been putting in a lot of work in the off-season,” said Claire Morgan, the women’s soccer coach. “They really have the team-first mentality this year.”
“We really narrowly missed the playoffs last year,” said Morgan. Because they were so close last season, she said, the team has made an extra effort this year to start training early to meet their goal of qualifying this year.
This summer the team held open field sessions where anyone could come and play practice games before official practices started. Since many of the players would rather get back into training by playing actual games instead of doing drills, this approach is the “best way to get in shape,” Morgan said.
“Everyone has a really good work ethic,” said Brooke Steinberg, who is starting her third year with the team. “I think we have a really good chance of making the playoffs this year.”
Morgan, who played soccer for four years at Western Washington University, said that the key to Whatcom’s success has been the cohesiveness of the team. During practices and games, “they all contribute in their own way,” she said. In her experience, this quality is what has defined the best teams she has played on, Morgan said.
“The girls have been so great for each other this year,” Morgan said. “They have totally had each other’s backs from day one.”
The players’ commitment to each other is clear during practices, as they ask each other about homework and remind each other to eat well and stay healthy before and after each one. After finishing their drills, the team often holds hour-long study tables where they gather together to stay current on their school work.
While playing well is important, the team “really values the academic side of school” since that is the main reason the players are enrolled, Morgan said.
There are only eight home games this year, and the team would encourage more students to come to the games, especially since they are currently first in the league, said Brogna.
When trying to qualify for the playoffs “it’s always really, really competitive,” Morgan said, but “it’s been a great season so far.”
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