Stephens College soccer hasn’t had a great deal of success in recent years. Last season in particular was a troubling one as the Stars ended with a 3-15 record and a multitude of health problems prevented the team from reaching its full potential.
But with recruitment of new offensive weapons and the return of key veteran players, things were looking up for Stephens’ soccer. The main message from Day 1 of the offseason was to transform the program into a conference contender and begin rebuilding. At the start of the season the work seemed to have paid off. The Stars had momentum on their side with some great wins and good attacking play. But now, Stephens is facing a pivotal moment in its season.
After being shutout 9-0 by its first conference opponent of the season on Saturday, it is easy to wonder if Stephens just received a wake-up call about the difficulty of its schedule. From this point forward Stephens will only face American Midwest Conference opponents. Most of these teams Stephens hasn’t beaten in years, including local powerhouse Columbia College.
Stars’ attacker Anya Castelli appreciates the challenge of this season and wants to work towards getting Stephens to the next level.
“I don’t like losing, especially when it’s a big gap between the score,” Castelli said. “But I like playing more competitive teams because it gives you something to work for. To try and get better.”
Defender Savana Johnson shares this drive.
“I’m just really excited to keep going with this season because I think we have a lot of potential to be able to go into postseason,” Johnson said. “We all have a relatively positive attitude about everything, even after a loss. It’s like, ‘Okay well that happened. Think about what we need to fix, bring those ideas to practice the next day, and then shake it off because we have a new game coming.’”
The Stars might be silent in reflection after a loss, but they’re always ready to attack practice the next day.
Coach Kurtis Boardsen keeps the energy of practice upbeat and hopeful, while making sure to address the team’s weaknesses. He admits that he scheduled a grueling first part of the season that might be wearing the team down a bit. However, he believes this will only make his team stronger.
Boardsen hoped that the team would be in a better spot than they are now, but still thinks they’re where they need to be. Once the team addresses a few fundamental issues and formation play, Stephens can get back on track.
If the Stars can improve at winning possession of the ball and controlling the midfield, they could potentially be a new contender in the conference. The Stephens Stars return home to take on Hannibal-LaGrange University at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.