The Augustana women’s soccer team added talent in the form of 11 freshmen for its 2014-2015 season.
This year’s recruits include four center defenders, one goalie, three strikers and three midfielders.
“We could literally make our own team,” freshman and center defender Paula Miller said.
Junior midfielder Meg Thacker said the team added these eleven players because they had vacancies in the team after the previous school year.
“There was a really high number of seniors that graduated, so we needed those freshmen to come in and fill those positions,” Thacker said.
Head coach Brandon Barkus credits these upperclassmen players, in conjunction with Augustana’s academic reputation, as a main part of the reason Augustana was able to attract new talent.
“There are a bunch of great women on the team,” Barkus said. “It’s a major selling point.”
So much so, Barkus said, that the team chemistry—which he said is especially good among the freshmen—guarantees a high player retention rate.
This dynamic is one of the reasons why freshman forward Sam Tymkowicz found herself playing soccer at Augustana.
“I definitely fell in love with the team right away,” Tymkowicz said.
Nevertheless, “soccer’s not everything” to the team, freshman Taylor Machacek said. “We’re hard workers, and we like to compete,” Machacek said, but “we’re really into academics.”
Tymkowicz came to Augustana not just for soccer, but also for the school itself and for its nursing program.
Many of Augustana’s soccer players are here on academic scholarships as well as athletic ones, Barkus said.
“The women are high achievers,” Barkus said.
Once academic and athletic scholarships are put together, it becomes “a decent financial aid package” and yet another way Augustana can recruit competitively in Division II, according to Barkus.
And while it’s still early to tell, the women’s soccer team anticipates another way in which it can perform competitively: on the field.
“The preseason showed that we have a lot of scoring potential,” Thacker said. In addition, “We have a lot of depth, which is something that is unique.”
Machacek attributes some of this competitive edge to the new players’ hard-working attitudes.
“I think the freshmen are pushing the upperclassmen,” she said.
Whatever the reason, Thacker said the team is benefiting greatly from the talent in these eleven added members.
“It adds a spark to the team to have someone come off the bench and be just as good as someone who started,” Thacker said.
The women go on the road for their next four games, hoping to build on their impressive five-game winning streak which featured four shutouts.