Photo by Aidan D'Anna

Women’s soccer triumphs in first half of season

After a shortened 2020 season due to COVID-19, Lewis & Clark Women’s Soccer is off to a solid start in 2021. The Pios only got an eight game season last year, and went 2-5-1 in conference. This year they are 5-4 in conference, and have just passed the midpoint of the season. 

Head Coach Jim Tursi attributes this change in performance to the team’s defense. 

“Defensively, we’ve been amazing,” Turis said. “Our defense is our strength … we have two junior captains who have been our starting center backs, and they are the two best in the conference.” 

Another strength for this year’s team is their chemistry, both on and off the field. Center midfielder Becca McCullough ’21 links the heightened team morale to winning games. 

“I think scoring adds so much to the team positivity,” McCullough said. “I think we’re a special group, and winning is really pulling us closer together.” 

McCullough  also described a team culture in which the upperclassmen serve as mentors for the underclassmen, and there are no divisions between the classes. Midfielder Ella Gouran ’25 accredits  the upperclassmen with   doing an excellent job of modeling this team culture.

“The upperclassmen, at least for me, are really big role models,” Gouran said. “They’re people I look up to, in soccer, in school and just as people in general, and I think that’s something that a lot of the underclassmen feel, like these are people that we want to be when we’re older.” 

This team dynamic contributes to performance on the field, and is even being noticed by the coaches.

“I think this is the most enjoyable team we’ve had,” Tursi said. “And to be honest, everyone that practices with us contributes, which is rare to have a full 22 players that are able to contribute in practice and make everybody else better.” 

The accountability and team improvement has also trickled from the upperclassmen down to the freshmen. 

“We have expectations and standards for each other and a competitive nature,” Gouran said. “What we do in practice definitely translates into games and the overall feel of the season. It feels really important to everyone … and so you feel obligated and in a position to perform well.” 

After playing the majority of the first half of the season at home, the Pios will soon begin a five-game stretch on the road, starting with Pacific University on Oct. 23. Tursi knows away games can be difficult, but he trusts that the team will have a shot at maintaining their winning record and positive morale.

“It’s difficult to win on the road here,” Tursi said. “Two of these away games will be on grass, which we never play on, and we’re going to play a couple of the top teams on the road; it will be a challenge but I’m looking forward to it. I think this team has a confidence that I have not seen in the past.” 

Some of the players find that the most difficult part of playing on the road is not the change in field surface, but the lack of fan support. 

“I feel like a lot of times not a lot of people show up to our games,” Gouran said. “And I think going to different schools that’s something I notice a lot is that they have larger fan bases. That’s what changes for me, not necessarily the physical aspects of playing on a different field, but the other team having a fan base.”

Despite the tough conditions facing the team in their second half, Tursi sees this year as his chance to cement LC soccer as a force in the Northwest Conference.

“I would just love to imprint LC into the conference for the first time in the 12 years since I’ve been here,” Tursi said. “Usually we’re in the middle or bottom half (of the standings) so basically by this point our season is over. So to be in a position to compete for the top two or three spots right now is rare for us and so I’m looking forward to seeing how far we carry that.” 

Before starting a five game stretch on the road, the Pios play Linfield University this Sunday, Oct. 17 at home.

Aidan was a contributor for the Pioneer Log in his first semester at Lewis and Clark and became a features editor for his second semester. He is also a member of the Ultimate Frisbee team, Model United Nations, and Psych club.
As a features editor, he hopes to direct students’ attention to events, people, and interesting details about the community they share. He also hopes to inspire fellow students to write for the Pioneer Log and contribute to its supportive journalistic environment.

Aidan is a Psychology major and English minor. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing poetry, playing the piano, and all things comedy.

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