Last season, despite posting a solid 12-5 record for the campaign, the Tars failed to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years.
Although the season was disappointing, the Tars were poised to bounce back and make the tournament this year as the number 11 team in the country in the Preseason Coaches Poll.
On Feb. 10, the Tars faced Tampa on the road in their season opener, and saw themselves in a deficit right off the opening whistle. They conceded two early goals to the underdog Spartans.
The Tars continued to fight throughout the game, tallying more shots and less turnovers than their opponents, but never seemed to get a leg up on Tampa.
The Tars fell surprisingly in a hard fought 10-6 game, dropping not only their overall record but also their conference record to 0-1 for the season.
The team had an eight-day period to recover before they faced Lincoln Memorial for their first home game of the season, and the Tars showed they prepared for a different outcome than in their previous game.
The Tars led 9-2 going into halftime, and allowed only one goal the entire second half while scoring seven of their own en route to a 16-3 victory.
The team was lead by Nikki Stumpf ‘20 who put up a hat trick, and Kallie German ‘19 who added two goals and two assists.
After the game, defender Lindsay Van Beck ‘19, who led the Tars with two forced turnovers against Lincoln Memorial, voiced her optimism for the season despite not achieving a victory in the opener.
“Because it was such a strong team effort, I think it reinforces that everyone contributes and has a role on our team. It shows that we aren’t reliant on our starters or upperclassmen. Every girl on our team can make an impact,” said Van Beck, who earned Second Team All-America honors last season.
Nearly every player saw the field during the game, including some of the freshmen on the team. Van Beck emphasized their impact: “The freshman were really involved, there were a lot of girls who notched their first collegiate goals, including two freshmen defenders.”
The same way the team quickly moved past the difficult loss in the opener, Van Beck said that the team must look forward to their next contest. “We can’t worry about last season, past games, or missed opportunities within games,” she said.
If the Tars manage to stay focused on the games at hand, they have the talent to not only compete within the Sunshine State Conference, but reclaim a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
The Tars continue their season on the road to face Catawba in North Carolina on Feb. 23.