-Lauren Hughes, Contributing Writer
Hair tied up, pre-wrap on head, jerseys tucked in, cleats laced up, game faces on, staring at the eleven other faces on the opposite side of the field, in position waiting for the ref to blow his shiny little whistle meaning its game time.
Running up and down a 50-yard field for 90 minutes, sweating in 90-degree weather doesn’t sound like fun to most people, but for soccer players, it’s all the joy in the world.
The Mississippi College women’s soccer team has faced some challenges this year, with the passing of a soccer player, Kelly O’Mahoney. This wasn’t the first time they lost a teammate; last year they also lost player Ashley Greenway.
Getting over the tragedy, the team pushed themselves hard this fall. “The players really stepped up to the challenge,” said head coach Darryl Longabaugh.
They had a winning season, even though it was their first time in the Gulf South Conference.
Everything was taken more seriously, because the competition the girls faced was way harder. Last year they would beat teams by quite a few goals, this year, losses or wins were just a point or two away.
They lost to West Florida, who was the back-to-back GSC champion the past two years, 2-1. They didn’t make it as far as they wanted, or thought they deserved, but they put up a fight for the other teams. “One reason why we did well in our transition to DII was we had nine seniors that had been playing quality minutes since they were freshmen, so it wasn’t too big for them,” said Longabaugh. “It also helped that we added experienced players to the roster. Both helped us bring along the younger players. “
The team had a new addition to the coaching staff this year. Jordon Beedle, from England, is the new grad assistant for the Lady Choctaws. He taught them new ways to the play the game and how to better their skills. This season was very different from last year in how practice was run.
“Last year we didn’t have workouts during season, but this year we had weights twice a week at six in the morning, which was new to us,” said former soccer player, Brittany O’Leary. This year’s spring semester, the team will lift three days a week, followed by fitness and individual technical work for the first few months. Then they will transition into team practices and games against D1 schools. Last year the workload was much less, only practicing once a week, and playing indoor soccer another day of the week. With nine seniors leaving, and a few from the other classes, the Lady Choctaws soccer team will be undergoing a lot of changes.