COLUMBIA — With temperatures in the upper 90s and the heat index over 100 degrees Friday, the Stephens College women's soccer team lost its first game of the season 25-0 to Spring Hill College.
The team might have been affected by the heat, but also by the skill, cohesiveness and conditioning of Spring Hill.
Coming from Alabama, the Badgers are used to playing in high temperatures, and this helped them outlast the Stars, Stephens coach Xander Kennedy said.
"I knew that this was going to be a difficult challenge," Kennedy said. "Spring Hill has already played a couple of games this year and won both of them rather convincingly. I went in thinking let's use this as a measuring stick."
Spring Hill plays in one of the toughest conferences in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and is now 3-0 after earlier wins against Texas College and Wiley College.
The heat exposed difficulties the Stephens team has faced this season. Stephens had only four subs for the game, and NAIA rules state that each player is allowed only one entry into the game in the first half and two entries in the second half. The rules limited the Stars considerably in substitutions and caused players to really feel the effects of the heat.
"This is really the first hot week of the whole summer so they're not used to it," said Shelby Reed, the athletic trainer for Stephens. "I don't think anybody's quite used to it yet, but I mean they still go out there and do what they can."
Reed said the team uses extra water, cooling towels, electrolyte pops and even breathing exercises to help the players stay healthy, but that doesn't always work.
Despite the loss, Kennedy took away many positives from the game.
"I saw a lot of things that I was pleased with, honestly," Kennedy said. "Even though we lost by a large number, I was incredibly proud and pleased that they didn't score for the first 7 or 8 minutes in. And that was with their starting 11 playing 100 percent."
Stephens plays the University of the Ozarks at 6.p.m. Sept. 6 at Cosmopolitan Park.