Club Soccer Falls in Regionals

The women’s club soccer team hit the road last weekend to compete in the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) Region I soccer tournament.

The tournament was held Oct. 26-27 in Downingtown, Pa. Each year, the tournament includes the top two teams in each NIRSA region.

Vermont finished second in the New England West Division this year with a record of 5-0-1. This is the club’s fourth year in a row qualifying for the tournament.

“This past weekend, at Regionals we made it to the semifinals,” senior club president Mackenzie Hart said. “Unfortunately we lost, but it was the farthest we have made it in my four years.” The team’s record at the tournament was 2-1-1.

Junior Kelsey Porter was the coordinator for the team’s trip to Regionals this year.

“I organized everything for to traveling to regionals,” Ported said. She has been a starting defender since her freshman year. “We have learned how each other play and learned to capitalize on our strengths.”

“This growth led us to the best season I have seen since being on the team,” she said.

Hannah Matthews, junior treasurer for the team, believes one of the main reasons for the team’s success is the strong bond between players.

“I think that this year we have really amazing chemistry and we’re all really clicking on and off the field,” Matthews said.

“Everyone is also super committed to getting to practice and working their hardest, which is really important for a club sport when commitment can be kind of difficult to instill.”

Junior Hayley Maynes said the persona of the team this year was an influence on their success.

“Attitude is one of our best traits and our greatest weapon against other teams on the field,” Maynes said.

Senior Emily Secur also contributed to the team’s success this season.

“She puts her all into every game and practice and has definitely proven to be a team leader,” Hart said. “She has saved our butts in games we should have lost and her fierceness on the field is contagious.”

Senior Kasey Bilideau’s accuracy and skills have helped to lead her team to victory, according to teammates.

“She has the most skilled footwork on the team and has incredible accuracy when striking the ball,” Hart said. “Her foot skills and accuracy in the midfield have been deadly for opposing teams.”

According to Hart, many of the players on UVM’s club team were offered spots on National Collegiate Athletic Association teams.

Matthews’ favorite memories come from what happens off the field rather than specific plays during the game.

A few memories that Matthews described include “going to Simpson dining after 6 a.m. practice and just chowing down and being so loud while everyone around is scowling and confused as to why we’re so spunky at eight in the morning.”

Another one of Matthews’ favorite memories is “the long van rides to games with everyone singing along to the radio at the top of their lungs and growing totally delirious or pretty much any time we beat Dartmouth.”

“Everyone on the team is absolutely hilarious and so much fun to be around.” Matthews said she can’t imagine her college career at UVM without club soccer. “I’ve made all of my best friends from the team and have committed myself fully to being a part of the team.”

Club sports at UVM are different than varsity sports. The major difference is that on a normal varsity team, players get recruited and then abide by the coaches’ rules, Hart said.

“With us, it’s completely student run,” she said. “The captains of the team pick the players and we hire a coach to run practice and come to games.”

This makes being an officer for a club like women’s soccer a big time commitment and responsibility.

Matthews also commented that “it is incredible to feel like I’m still improving my play and becoming a better player than ever, even as a junior in college.”

“I think we’re unique in that we do a really good job of balancing the seriousness of a competitive team with having fun and building friendships,” Matthews said.

“At practice, as soon as play stops you’ll hear people cracking jokes and laughing hysterically, but as soon as the ball is back in play everyone puts their game faces on and is ready to work.” 12