Sawyer Strelnieks–Staff writer
Watching the Dordt women’s soccer team play and practice, the enthusiasm of the players is evident. Teammates are always cheering and encouraging one another. In a twist, the team of 2017 is more than a handful of members, with a roster of 42 players. Rather, this size of a roster is a new look for the women’s soccer team, who struggled with low numbers and injuries in previous seasons.
“The difference in this year’s team compared to the previous three years is the level of depth we have per position,” said head coach Bill Elgersma. “The level of play does not drop when substitutions are made and that makes both training and games highly-competitive.”
Having such a large bench with a number of women rotating into the game has allowed the team to always have fresh players on the field, something which wasn’t possible in previous years. Leadership is key on this team, with five returning seniors, one of whom is a captain, and one junior captain, all of whom are leading the team on and off the field. These women are dedicated to making the team better every day.
Having such a strong bench keeps the team highly competitive with lots of energy in both games and practices. Still, experience on the field is the team’s greatest weakness at this point, with many underclassmen having spent only minutes on the varsity field. But this weakness is one that can easily be resolved over time as players gain more playing time.
“We have not had this many numbers, talent and drive in previous years, so I am excited to see how this season develops,” senior captain Natalie Sakuma said. “Each person on the team has a passion for excellence on the field, team camaraderie and playing for God, which makes us a lethal threat.”
With such a close-knit team, there are high expectations moving forward. Their goal is to make it to nationals this year. This goal became visible when Dordt competed with Hastings earlier this season, who is the favorite in the Great Plains Athletic Conference and is also ranked 20th in the country. Although Dordt didn’t walk away with a win, the team sustained pressure and discovered how competitive they can be in the GPAC. Coaches and players alike agree that there is a lot of potential to be uncovered in the rest of the season.