The Cougars are slowly but surely adapting to new changes in playing style.
It has been a tough beginning for the women’s soccer squad. After dropping their most recent game against Dixie State (1-0), the team now stands at 0-4. It hasn’t been the start of the season they were hoping for, but new head coach Brooke Lincoln acknowledged that growing pains are necessary for future success.
Lincoln, hired in February, noted the team’s inexperience and implementation of a new style of play as the main challenges early on.
“We’re very inexperienced. We’re not young, but we have a lot of players who haven’t played a lot of minutes in the past, and teaching them a new style of play while playing quality opponents to start off the season has led to a little bit of a slow start,” Lincoln said. “We haven’t necessarily gotten the results that we are wanting yet, but we are making progress each game.”
Lincoln, along with the coaching staff, are encouraging the team to be patient and to trust the process of improvement.
“We can’t be concerned about the scoreboard, but we have to trust that we are moving in the right direction and as a byproduct, we are going to start getting the results that we want,” Lincoln explained. “Players are still trying to learn what their roles and responsibilities are so that they can do their job well.”
The Cougars’ new playing style revolves around possession and moving the ball a lot more than in previous seasons. Not only do they want to make a certain number of passes during each game, but Coach Lincoln wants possession with a purpose, and that purpose is to score goals.
Junior forward, Emmy Koflanovich, talked about adapting to the new style of play and what she thinks needs to be improved in order to win games.
“This season we’ve been focusing on connecting the ball and keeping it on the floor,” Koflanovich said. “I think we’ve improved a lot during the past four games, but we still aren’t fully there.”
Sophomore midfielder Haley Bostard talked about the team’s attitude towards the new system.
“I think it’s been a great transition for us. We’re learning how coach likes us to play. [Lincoln is] demanding a lot from us, and it’s really good because she wants the absolute best from us,” Bostard said. “We just need to keep striving and playing the best that we can play for a full 90 minutes.”
Patience is key for the Cougars as they head into conference.
Lincoln referenced society’s desire for instant results, but noted that true and lasting success does not happen overnight—It takes hard work and time.
“We live in a generation where we want instant gratification, so we want to be able to come out and to work one hard day or week at training and expect to get the result that we’re looking for,” Lincoln said. “It doesn’t always work like that. In fact, most of the time it doesn’t work like that. So, for us, it is allowing players the opportunity to gain experience and that takes time.”
The Cougars have faced challenging circumstances by learning a new style of play and by gaining more experience, but they are now confident that the growing pains will translate into success in future.
Up next on the schedule, the team will travel to Hawaii for three away games. Their first PacWest conference game will be Thursday, Sept. 20 against Chaminade.