Historic women’s soccer season comes to a close

By Jared Talbot | gargoyle@flagler.edu

After accomplishing multiple feats that no other Flagler College women’s soccer team has ever accomplished, the lady Saints season has ended. The Saints fell to Columbus State University 3-0 in the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament on Sunday, Nov. 12.

Flagler finished its season with a record of 16-3-2. Going into the season, few could have predicted this team would have performed to this level. They combined to win a total of 19 games in the past three seasons but almost matched that total during this season alone. The 16 victories they were able to win this year was good for enough for the most in the college’s history.

Beyond just winning the most games ever in a season, the team also accomplished something that no other Flagler women’s soccer team ever has: They qualified for the NCAA Division II tournament. This was Head Coach Ashley Martin’s fourth season at the helm and although his first three seasons did not go as planned, he always knew this team had it in them.

“This team has committed to making the sacrifices needed to be a conference challenger, and a national tournament team. I’m proud to work with them every day. I think that given the foundation and core values we have within our program, we expect to continually grow and consistently perform at the highest level in Division II,” he said.

The team not only went to its first NCAA tournament in school history, but they picked up their first victory as well. They won their first-round matchup against Limestone College in the first round with a 3-0 victory. Charlene Nowotny scored two goals in the victory. Nowotny had an impressive season herself as the sophomore out of Marburg, Germany led the team in goals scored as well as points. She finished with an impressive 16 goals, eight assists and 40 points.

She said she had a feeling from the start that this team was going to perform well.

“I knew that this year we were going to have a more successful season. We only lost two seniors after last year and had a large group coming back. We worked hard in the spring, we improved our fitness but also technical and tactical skills. But I think a key aspect was that we became mentally stronger. We went into the season with that mentality that we would be a really good team and that it would be hard to beat us,” she said.

Nowotny was selected as the Sleep Inn Athlete of the Month for October. She tallied seven goals, four assists and 18 points during the month. She was also one of five players to receive all conference consideration along with Fio Fustagno, Abby Austin, Katie Reed and Sarah-Lisa Dubel. Martin was also named co-coach of the year and they were all honored at the pre-tournament award ceremony on Nov. 1.

Although being recognized is nice, Nowotny looks at them as a reflection of the team’s hard work.

“I think the accolades reflect the hard work and commitment of the team this year. This is a result of where we are as a team. I think we are a team with really special character and this is one of the main reasons why we had such a good season,” she said.

With the season ending, the Saints are looking toward the future. Nowotny echoed Martin’s remarks when it comes to whether they have what it takes to continue this success.

“I think that we can be as good or even better in the next few years,” she said. “Coach Martin started in his first year with four wins and within four years he has completely changed the program. This year we won 16 games, and at one point were ranked fifth in the nation which is an outstanding development when considering where the program was four years ago. It will be hard to lose the seniors we are losing but we have some very good freshmen coming in next year and I am confident some other players can grow into a bigger role. This year was the beginning of a good future for the women’s soccer team at Flagler College.”

From a four-win season to a 16-win season. From never going to the NCAA tournament to winning a game in one. This year’s Flagler College women’s soccer team proved that pre-season projections don’t mean much and as long as you believe in each other and keep the right mentality, you can accomplish a lot. That they did.

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