The Mississippi College women’s soccer team has shot all the way up to number six in the latest United Soccer Coaches Poll for Division 2, mainly thanks to a double-digit game win streak that currently has them in first place in the GSC.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the Lady Choctaws though as they suffered a defeat in their first game of the season at the hands of Saint Leo. Senior defender Liza Wise thinks that the early loss actually has helped the team down the stretch, “I think at first, the loss was a good thing. We didn’t think that at first, but it humbled us. It made us realize that, yeah, we are talented, and there are a lot of skilled players and great girls on this team, but unless we put the work in, we are not going to get the results.”
The Lady Choctaws’ head coach Darryl Longabaugh thinks there are a plethora of reasons that his team has gone on the long win streak, saying “one of the main reasons is just the talent level we have on the team. The girls, their desire to win these games and to go further than before, is driving them. The experience we have in the starting lineup and the girls that come off the bench have been fantastic.” He also pointed to how several teams have “parked the bus” (which is when a team is willing to sit back and defend heavily, and not make an effort to get numbers forward) against his team as a means to minimize the MC offense, but the Lady Choctaws have still found ways to win those games.
Wise points to the leadership on the team as a big reason for MC’s success. Her fellow seniors make up ten members of the Lady Choctaws roster, and most of the ten log significant minutes for the squad. She added, “I think that a huge thing for us is definitely the leadership from the seniors. We have 10 seniors on the team this year, and each one of them plays a huge role on this team. Our mindsets are all the same. It’s really hard to get a big group of girls to be on the same page. Going forward everyone wants the same thing, we have the same passion and we are kind of doing it for each other.”
MC is looking to build off of what was a mesmerizing run through the NCAA tournament last season that saw them make it all the way to the Round of 16 before they suffered a heartbreaking loss to GSC foe Lee, whom they got a 3-1 revenge win over a few weeks ago, but the Lady Choctaws are not using that run as motivation. Wise added “making it to the Round of 16 was really awesome last year, but I think this year we are trying to just focus on where we are at the moment. Of course we have super high expectations for this team, but right now, we are taking it game by game and taking care of business whenever we can, because that is when we are most successful.”
Both Wise and Longabaugh said the mantra for the team moving forward is finishing. Wise said that “last year we got really close, and it kind of gave us a little glimpse of what could happen. This year, we are looking forward to giving it our all every game and towards the end, hopefully finishing every single game so that we can actually make it all the way.” Longabaugh added, “My expectations for the team going forward is to finish the year strong. To win the remaining games, go into conference on a real good win streak with real good momentum. I expect these young ladies to push even harder through these final games. There’s no easy games going forward. We just have to strap our boots on and go out there and give it everything we have.”