A week ago, Barry University women’s soccer team jumped from tenth to No. 1 in the NSCAA Coaches Poll and that can be both good and bad.
“It’s amazing to be recognized for the hard work we’ve been putting in,” said Barry senior forward Lavinia Nkomo Friday afternoon. “The difficult part will be keeping the No. 1 ranking and proving in every match that we play that we deserve it.”
The Buccaneers handled the pressure well in their first game as the No. 1 team with a 2-0 victory against Florida Tech on Wednesday, improving to 5-0 overall.
Barry, though, wasn’t as fortunate Saturday, dropping its first game of the season, falling to 2-0 to Embry-Riddle.
Still, in Nkomo’s four years at Barry, the women’s soccer program has been trending upward. In her freshman season, Barry finished 7-7-2.The next season Barry won a conference title.
“To see how far the team had developed and improved in the space of one year, I feel that all of us as returners significantly grew as players in that year and that’s when we first created the mentality that we carry today,” Nkomo said.
Nkomo has played a role in the upward climb. Last year Barry finished 11-2-3. Nkomo ended the year with six goals and 14 points and earned second team NSCAA All-American. She also had a 4.0 GPA both semesters in her major of exercise physiology. In just six games this season, Nkoma has five goals and 11 points.
“She has improved, but we have also altered her position,” said Barry coach Denise Brolly. “She is extremely athletic and has gotten more athletic over the years. That is why she is becoming more and more of a threat. For the most part, she played center-midfield, but now she is playing out on the wing. She can play anywhere, central-midfield and on the wing and up top.
“She is a very difficult player to stop. She is very strong. She is quick. She can go for days. There is a lot to Lavinia. She is well-rounded.”
As happy as the Buccaneers were last week to reach No. 1, they are more concerned about improving and play well the remainder of the season.
“Obviously, it means the world to us,” Brolly said of being No. 1. “Historically, we have three national titles. We are proud to bring the program back to having that recognition. We have played well at times. “We still have a couple of gears to go. Our best futbol is still to be played.”
“We’re obviously getting the results, but as a team, I feel we’re only just touching on the surface of what we’re capable of,” Nkomo said. “We have a lot more to bring to the game, performance-wise, and are only just beginning to find our stride.”
A professional start for Charleston men’s soccer
Before the season started, University of Charleston men’s soccer coach Chris Grassie figured he was going to get one of the most focused teams in his three years at the school.
The Golden Eagles, ranked No. 2 in the NSCAA coaches poll, reached the NCAA Division II championship game last year and then suffered their only loss of the season, falling 3-2 to Lynn University. Charleston returned all but one starter from last year.
“We are playing with a little bit of a chip on our shoulders,” Grassie said. “We made mistakes in that game that we didn’t make all season. Everybody realize we had a bad 17 minutes all season. I think everybody is very hungry to get back there and set the record straight for us.”
Still, the Golden Eagles faced some adversity during preseason. According to Grassie, they had six or seven players battling injuries.
“We didn’t really have that preseason to get everybody back in the swing of things,” Grassie said. “The first few games of the season were to get everybody back on the same page. Our first four games were on the road. We used those games to gel and find our feet.”
The early-season injuries didn’t prevent the Golden Eagles from winning their first five games.
“We have been very professional,” Grassie said. “We still have another 50 percent we can get out of the group. The guys are keeping everything in context. We have played well, but we still have a lot more to go.”
Leading the team in scoring is junior Will Roberts with four goals and two assists for 10 points. Junior goalkeeper Fabian Velt has recorded three shutouts and has allowed only two goals.
Central Missouri women’s soccer happy at No. 2
Central Missouri State women’s soccer team is showing its jump from No. 8 to No. 2 last week in the NSCAA coaches poll was justified.
The Jennies beat Lindenwood 7-0 on Friday and Northwest Missouri State 6-1 on Sunday.
“We were No. 2 a few years ago,” Central Missouri coach Lewis Theobald said. “It is a good thing. It is still early in the season. We have a long ways to go. How accurate that is, I don’t really know. It is a nice reward for the kids. You start the poll based on last year. We had a good year. They have done well early. It is good for our confidence.
“Anytime you get rewarded early, it helps team morale, team confidence, but we don’t want it to drag us out of the process.”
Theobald said depth and the ability to put the ball in the back of the net are the strengths of this year’s team.
“A lot people have contributed,” Theobald said. “We are scoring goals. That is something we haven’t done in the past.”
Theobald said senior Julie Ireland, a returning All-American, has scored important goals for the Jennies so far this season.
“But we have been getting goals from a lot of different people,” he said. “It makes a big difference.”
Ireland and sophomore Mikala Modiri have each scored six goals.
Week 3 games to watch results
- No. 5 Ferris State at No. 14 Grand Valley State: Ferris State senior quarterback Jason Vander Laan threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another three touchdowns in the Bulldogs 61-24 victory over Grand Valley State.
- No. 7 Minnesota Duluth at No. 12 Sioux Falls: Sioux Falls junior quarterback Luke Papilion threw for 218 yards and rushed for 125 in a 35-31 victory over Minnesota Duluth to stay undefeated. Cornerback Clifford Redmond knocked away a pass in the end zone late in the game to preserve the victory.
- Winston-Salem at No. 24Tuskegee: Tuskegee allowed only 229 yards in its 28-13 victory over Winston-Salem in a game that was televised on ESPN3. Senior linebacker Jewell Ratliff led Tuskegee with 15 tackles and senior linebacker Michael Robinson added nine.
- No. 3 Northwest Missouri State at Central Missouri: Northwest senior quarterback Brady Bolles scored on a 7-yard quarterback draw with 36 seconds left, leading the Bearcats to a 34-30, come-from-behind victory at Central Missouri. Northwest trailed 23-6 midway through the third quarter.
- No. 17 Ohio Dominican at No. 19 Ashland: Ashland junior tailback Vance Settlemire rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns, leading Ashland to a 27-24 victory. His second touchdown gave Ashland a 27-17 lead in the third quarter. Neither team scored in the fourth quarter.