The women’s club soccer team is excited for continued growth after its first year.
The club started up spring 2011 and has taken steps to improve throughout the past year.
The upcoming fall season marks the first organized schedule for the team, as well as membership in a club soccer conference.
“Next fall, we are going to have a really competitive and tightly packed schedule in the months of September and October,” Tara Zacharia, a junior from Skokie studying early childhood education, said. “We just got acceptance into the Midwest Alliance Conference, so we’re going to be playing teams like U of I, ISU, Indiana, Valporaiso, Cincinnati and Michigan.”
Members of the team gathered Tuesday to hang flyers and write chalk messages on the pavement around campus to recruit more girls for the team.
“Our biggest concern is definitely to get more girls on the team, because right now we need at least five to 10 more girls,” Zacharia said.
The club currently has 20 members. Soccer rules require 11 players be on the field per side: 10 position players and a goalie. With only 20 players, a full practice scrimmage is currently impossible for the team.
The girls are optimistic for next season, as this initial year consisted only of practices and a pair of friendly matches as the team got everything in order.
“This past season, we had some friendly games with SIUE,” Kelsey Orrill, a sophomore from Carbondale studying healthcare management, said. “We were mostly practicing and building as a team, and now we’re really trying to pull numbers in to prepare for our upcoming season.”
Orrill said the team already has around 10 games on the schedule for next year.
Maureen O’Connor, a junior from Libertyville studying special education and elementary education, is one of the newest members of the team. O’Connor, who has been playing soccer since she was 3 years old, said she found out about the team through a friend and began attending practices April 17.
“I like the competitiveness,” she said. “It’s a team sport. I’m on the water-ski team too, and this is just completely different, playing with everybody and not just individually.”
Although many of the girls have been playing soccer for the majority of their lives, Zacharia said experience is not the most important qualification for potential and current team members.
“What makes a good soccer player, first and foremost, is the dedication and commitment that you need to have toward your team and the sport,” she said. “Then, the skills and abilities come next.”
The team will hold a meeting for new members at 8 p.m. May 3 in the Alumni Lounge at the Recreation Center.