By Caio Orofino
The Albion College women’s soccer team hasn’t been relevant in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association in the last five years. That’s all changing now, due to a new head coach with a vision and passion for his program.
“We started with a plan to ultimately be competitive on a national level by 2016,”said Eric Scott, head coach.
The Britons are already (7-3-1, 3-3-1) on the season and have made some noise in the MIAA for the first time in a while. To put that record into perspective, before Scott arrived on campus, the women’s soccer program had only won 13 games in four years. Since Scott’s arrival last year though, the team has been victorious 11 times, with nine more guaranteed games remaining on their schedule.
Even Scott’s players are impressed with the turnaround.
“People told him it would take four to five years to turn the program around, and he’s done it so far in two, which is very impressive,” said Lauren Bensley, Traverse City junior. “I’ve never seen a coach who cares so much.”
Coach Scott went to work as soon as he arrived on campus last season. He’s been recruiting talented players, and has been using his current players and Albion’s academic integrity as part of his recruitment strategy.
“The most important aspect of recruiting for us is the current players, and their overwhelming willingness to buy into what we are trying to do,” Scott said. “We have laid out the plan for being competitive over the next few years, and that those incoming players would have an impact if they did the right things in the classroom, and in training.”
Caroline Eagan, Bloomfield Hills junior is just one example of how persuasive Scott can be in recruiting.
“I was actually a transfer student, and wasn’t even planning on playing soccer at Albion, but he convinced me to play by saying that he was going to turn the program around,” Eagan said.
He’s turned it around pretty quickly.
Not only has Scott changed the mindset of his team, but it is not hard to imagine that he has changed the way Albion women’s soccer is perceived within the MIAA, as the Britons have been winning games they would not have been favored to win, even as recently as a year ago.
“We want to prove to the college and conference that we are good enough,” Bensley said. “He’s put that winning mentality in us.”
Scott is also very aware that the women on the soccer team are also college students and not just full-time athletes. “He knows we’re busy, so he accounts for everything in our lives so when it’s time for practice, that’s all we focus on,” Eagan said.
Scott has been a Brit for quite a while now and has that inner school spirit and Albion passion. He is an ‘01 alumnus and played football as a kicker.
He spoke highly to the team’s trigger word this season which has gone far in motivating the team so far: consistency. He knows that his team has the potential to do great things on the pitch; they just need to remain focused and consistent in order to beat their opponents. They need to play their game and not focus on the other team, but more on themselves. The girls added that this allows them to win and only think about the game plan.
“Over the course of this season, and moving forward, we need to be more consistent in two things: the short term, meaning a 90 minute game, and then game by game,” Scott said. “When we speak on the macro thought of consistency, we talk about season long consistency, not only on the field, but in the locker room, in the weight room, and, most importantly, in the classroom over the course of the rest of the year, and over their four years here at Albion.”
“His main thing that he says to us before each game is ‘if we win the battles and races, then we’ll win the game’ so during every game he keeps track of how many battles and races we win,” Eagan said.
Essentially, if the Albion College women’s soccer team wins the majority of their 50/50 balls, then they will be successful. Hopefully we’ll continue to see those battles and races being won, as the women’s soccer team advances into the second half of their season.