Photo: Taylor Soule
This fall marked the 10th anniversary of the Drake’s women’s soccer program. Established in 2002, the team was succesful right away, winning the Missouri Valley Conference title three seasons in a row. In 2006, the squad even advanced to the NCAA Tournament, but lost in the first round.
Jen Lose, 26, a 2010 graduate from the pharmacy program, joined the team as a walk-on during her first year for the team’s third season.
“We had a lot of talented players that wanted to receive both an opportunity to play Division I soccer and get a quality education,” Lose said. “This program attracted players that weren’t afraid to take chances with a new program, and I think that is a testament to the drive, passion and success the team had very early on in the Drake women’s soccer program existence.”
Lose said it was hard for the team to gather fans and support initially, but it was successful nonetheless.
“The most memorable part for most girls was the trip to the NCAA Tournament,” Lose said. “We really wanted this for our inaugural class but unfortunately came up short in the MVC championship game that year.”
Head coach Lindsey Horner said that in the team’s most recent season last fall, the Bulldogs did not perform as well as she would have liked due to several obstacles.
“We dealt with injuries and illness our toughest travel schedule to date, and an overall inexperienced team, if you look at it not as age or grade, but in overall college games played,” Horner said.
In a sport that starts 11 players and averages about 16 players playing each game, we only had two players that had three varsity letters and two players with two varsity letters, so while the game results didn’t always go our way, we had many players that gained a lot of valuable experience.”
Junior forward Laura Moklestad also agreed that injuries and illnesses were a struggle for the team. She said the team had great chemistry and several talented players, but it didn’t always capitalize on its strengths.
“At times we could’ve had more, but we haven’t always been able to reach our potential, which has been disappointing,” Moklestad said. “But it’s cool to see how we’ve regrouped from every disappointment we’ve had and used that as a learning experience.”
The team went 4-11-4 overall last fall and tied for fourth place in the MVC.
The 2012 season this fall will be Moklestad’s last, and she hopes to make it her – and the team’s – best.
“Everyone is really committed to working harder than ever,” Moklestad said. “We don’t want to have another season like that (in 2011).”
Horner said the soccer program will finally have enough alumni to have a soccer reunion at Drake Relays. She said she hopes the team history can be used as a learning opportunity for current players.
“I look forward to our alumni sharing stories and memories with our current players of where the program started,” Horner said. “It’s easy to take for granted that we train in a multi-million dollar stadium with lights, while our alumni can recall shagging soccer balls out of the woods behind the old practice field.”
Though the team hasn’t seen the successes accomplished in previous seasons, the caliber of the MVC has increased.
“Youth soccer clubs are producing better players, and the overall standard of athleticism continues to rise across the board with Division I programs,” Horner said. “We have some very good players on our roster, but we are facing very good players each game as well.”
Moving forward, the team will continue to train toward a better season. Moklestad said she’s excited for the possibilities and hopes that the team will produce positive results.
“I think we have more of an essence of what it means to become a team that does win,” Moklestad said. “I think we have the potential to win the MVC tournament, and this could be the year that we do that.”