Women’s and men’s soccer seasons are in full swing. The women are approaching their Conference playoffs and the men won their first Conference match 2-0 against Cornell College on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
Although they won, head coach Brian Jaworski knows there’s room for improvement.
“It was a really disappointing performance but we won the game,” Jaworski said. “It can take a while to hit your stride as a Division III team.”
Michael Kamp ’18, a midfielder, credited senior Ambar Kakkar ’16 with boosting the team’s performance. Kakkar scored the Pioneers’ first goal of the game with a penalty kick in the first half.
“For three and a half years, he wasn’t giving 100 percent consistently in practice,” Jaworski said. “But ten days ago we had a senior in here and he said, ‘84 percent isn’t good enough,’ and [Kakkar] didn’t waste time. That afternoon he was a different player. This is Ambar playing the best soccer of his life and having the most fun. He’s going to challenge his teammates to work as hard as he is. And he’ll be a different person for the rest of his life.”
Jaworksi stressed that the team needs to work on three fundamental tenets of teamwork to continue to win games. When everyone is accountable, responsible and willing to make sacrifices, they’ll be a “total team” on Saturday, Sept. 19, when they play Knox College, Grinnell’s biggest rival.
“We’re trying to get this team to peak at the right time,” Jaworski said. “And that’s been my goal since we lost to them last year three-nothing. [Saturday] has been on the back of my mind since the schedule was announced. We were not prepared last year, and that has to do with me and the players.”
To be better prepared, Jaworksi meets with every player individually. If they don’t meet with him, they can’t play.
As for the women’s team, the team trounced Augsburg College last year, but last Saturday night, Augsburg had its revenge, beating the Pioneers 4-0.
“They came out hard because we beat them last year in overtime,” said Nora Sahel ’17. “They are a big, fast and physical team, and we matched up well with them but they finished their opportunities.”
The Pioneers showed their resilience, however, on Wednesday as they edged out Buena Vista University in a thrilling affair that ended in double overtime on a goal by Carolyn Silverman ’17. The game ultimately ended with a 4-0 onslaught at Springer Field in front of a large, cheering crowd.
Sahel noted that Silverman has stood out as an integral part of the Pioneers’ offensive this season.
“[She] has been incredibly explosive on offense,” Sahel said.
After making nine saves against Augsburg, goalkeeper Katy Oldach ’16 put on yet another all-star performance on Wednesday, recording four saves against Buena Vista.
“Katy’s a phenomenal goalkeeper, I would say the best in the Conference. Katy and [Polly Carr ’18] … are very intense and go hard in training. That level of focus I would attribute to her success,” Sahel said.
The women are now 2-3 on the season and will also open Midwest Conference play this Saturday at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.