Cougars Aim to Defend Title

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Arthur Dowell, Web Editor

 

Anyone who steps into head coach Mark Stauffer’s office can see that he takes great pride in his women’s soccer team and all the accomplishments he and his squads have made throughout the years.

With plaques for All-American players, team photos and memories of team trips it is easy to see that Stauffer has not taken his job for granted.

This year is no different. The women have high expectations after coming off an incredible season during which they made it to the NCAA Final Four. The Cougars look to take the challenges head on as eight of last season’s starters return this year.

“The leadership on the team is amazing,” said Stauffer. “Everywhere I look there is a leader helping out some of the younger players and getting them adjusted to what we do on the field.”

The success the women had last season did not happen easily. Stauffer and his coaching staff are regularly watching film and recruiting high school players to continue to grow and remain competitive.

The players have noticed the work. Senior Healthcare Management and Physical Therapy major Nicolette Ruffler said the staffers’ labor is reason for gratitude.

“The support they give us is incredible,” said Ruffler. “Walking into the office seeing all the success and team photos makes me proud to play for a great team and makes me strive to get better and make it up on his wall.”

Ruffler plays back and serves as a senior leader for the Cougars.

The team became focused after the loss in the Final Four in San Antonio, and it was fueled by a positive outlook during games and the chemistry among players.

“Instead of playing the game 90 minutes at a time, we look at it in five-minute sections,” said Stauffer. “The results will speak for themselves at the end of games, just as long as we focus on the details in the moment.”

After their tough loss last season many of the girls wanted to get back into training and help build on their talents and health. They feel the biggest obstacle  and key to their success – is the team itself.

“We are in control of our fate and we work together constantly and remind ourselves that we have the potential for the same success,” said Stauffer

Ruffler believes in her teammates and said this year’s squad has an advantage over the team that made it to San Antonio.

“We now have that experience and want to return there and take it even further and win a National Championship this year,” said Ruffler.

Stauffer is looking forward to a big student section during home games so they too can go along for the ride. He said the women feel more comfortable playing when they have the support of their school behind them.

The women were picked to win the Freedom Conference this season in the 2013 Freedom Preseason Coach’s Poll.

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