Women’s soccer ready as UAA competition begins

Tolmer in a game against Emory. (credit: Courtesy of CMU Athletics) Tolmer in a game against Emory. (credit: Courtesy of CMU Athletics)

As junior defender Emily Tolmer sprinted down the soccer field after a day of classes, she realized her exhaustion. After the ordeal, she sat on the benches and looked over at her similarly exhausted teammates and knew they were the reason she pushed herself so hard. The new fitness standards that the women’s soccer team implemented this fall force players to train harder — both mentally and physically — in order to make the team.

“This year, there was more of a mindset that everyone was to earn their position on the field. It wasn’t based off of any of your past achievements or anything that you’ve done; it was basically a clean slate where you had to come in and work to earn your position,” said Tolmer.

The new fitness standards made training more competitive this year. The standards consisted of shorter times for traditional training requirements, including the beep test, full-field sprints, long sprints, and shuttle sprints. The challenge of these new standards forced players to overcome both physical and mental barriers and helped foster the respect they had for each other.

“I think having respect for each other is just trusting different players on the field and every teammate. I know in the past our team has dealt with a lot of injuries or just personal change on the field and I think that everyone is working so hard [that] it makes you comfortable playing on the team and knowing that anyone who steps on the field has earned their position on the team. We demanded so much more from each other than in years past,” said Tolmer.

While, of course, every team’s goal is to win nationals, the women’s soccer team believes that their new training standards will help them to accomplish this goal. In order to make it to nationals, the team has to first either win their conference or, when compared to other teams, perform well based on their record, schedule, and teams played. If these requirements are met, the team is able to play in the NCAA tournament and has the opportunity to make it to the final four.

“The goal is to win a national championship. This season [when] we were expected to come in a lot more fit than… in the past, we could immediately start training at our top speed and level, which has led into our game speed,” said first-year midfielder and defender Hannah Anderson.

While the team has found the new standards to be helpful in preparing for both their games and the championship, they believe that fitness is only one of many aspects players need to grow.

“We’re holding each other accountable to a higher level of play in all aspects: fitness is just one. We always say we’re not a track team, we’re a soccer team that just happens to work really hard on fitness because that enables us to focus more on our play,” said Tolmer.

This mentality was important to keep in mind as the team opened University Athletic Association (UAA) play against New York University on Saturday. The Tartans earned a 1–0 victory against the Violets.

Senior forward Haili Adams put in the game winner and her seventh goal of the year in the third minute. Senior defender Katie Strycharz played a ball along the sideline to sophomore forward Ryan Casey who raced down to the goal line. Adams was there to loft a shot over the keeper to the far post.

First-year goalkeeper Carolyn Botz was credited with the win and shutout after making two saves.

The women’s soccer team remains confident in their ability to make it to the final four. Until then, the team is taking this season weekend by weekend but keeping the championship in the back of their minds.