By Devon Jeffreys
The 2006 edition of the Flagler College women’s soccer team entered the season with high expectations. Currently, they’re enduring that sinking feeling.
When coach Teddy Meyer set the schedule for this season, he knew he was giving his team a challenge. His team’s 0-6-1 shows just how challenging moving up can be.
“Most teams wouldn’t play a schedule as tough as ours the first five or six games,” Meyer said.
The Lady Saints started their season with NCAA Div. I North Florida, falling 4-0. UNF is currently 5-1. The following week they lost to Div. II Rollins College of the Sunshine State Conference 5-1.
The Lady Saints followed with an overtime match with NAIA powerhouse Robert Morris. The teams played to a tie and the match was stopped due to lightning just prior to the end of the first overtime.
What followed was a four match losing streak in which the Lady Saints were out scored 16-3.
“We haven’t finished our chances. We’ve had a lot, but we haven’t finished all of them,” Meyer said. “We’ve only finished some of them and there’s frustration with the girls, but they know its coming. We haven’t scored goals and that’s how you win games so it’s getting there and it will get better every time. But it’s just going to take us a while.”
The Lady Saints are relying on a freshman heavy squad, and coupled with such a difficult schedule, are experiencing growing pains that could be expected.
“We’re a young team so we’re still learning to play together over 90 minutes,” Meyer said. “We’ve played good in 45s, 60s and 70s but we haven’t played together as a team for 90 yet. We will and when we do that, we’ll win.”
Meyer likes what he sees from his team in terms of ability and thinks it is only a matter of time before his team can gel and get the experience they lack.
“The more experience they get, the less mistakes they’ll make and then every game it gets better,” he said.
One hit the Lady Saints took early on was the loss of freshman defender Kincaid Schmidt to an ACL/MCL injury.
“It was tough because she was a good leader in the back and added a lot of enthusiasm,” Meyer said. “I think she had an infectious work rate with the other girls whether they were older or younger. She was a freshman and she acted like a junior at times.
With Schmidt down, Meyer will get a better look at freshman Samantha Warr of Orange Park on defense.
Coach Meyer said although the schedule doesn’t get easier going forward, it does change.
“The high level of it is a little bit different,” he said. We have some teams that are unranked. We’ve been playing a lot of ranked teams regionally and nationally. It’s not going to get easier, though, because now we’re going to have tighter layoffs between games, so less days in between and more games back to back.”
Meyer believes that the quicker layoffs will be good for the team because his players will have fresh legs and will be ready for the games because of the increase in play. It will also allow them to rebound quicker if they do lose.
“After every game coach is always telling us that ‘this game is over, put it behind you. We have new games to go on to and if we dwell on the old games, we’re just going to get stuck in losing,'” Warr said.
With the toughness of the schedule, Meyer thinks his team can’t look too far ahead and has to play in the now.
“We’re definitely a team that takes one game at a time and division doesn’t matter if we go out there and play our best,” freshman Meredith Marshall said.
Looking ahead, the ladies go to continue a road swing taking on seventh ranked Tampa on Sept. 22 and then head to Embry Riddle for another installment in the rivalry on Sept. 27.
Meyer said he knows that the team’s first victory is coming and that his girls are getting anxious for it.
“As soon as we get the win, it’ll be infectious and we’ll be looking for number two and three, but that’s a tough hump to get over,” he said.