LOOKING BACK: Soccer finishes record-breaking season

Jenny Rohl/The News
Rebecca Bjorkvall, senior midfielder, Racheal Foxley, senior defender, Nyomi Devine, sophomore defender and Taylor Stevens, senior midfielder, celebrate soccer’s championship win on Nov. 8.Jenny Rohl/The News Rebecca Bjorkvall, senior midfielder, Racheal Foxley, senior defender, Nyomi Devine, sophomore defender and Taylor Stevens, senior midfielder, celebrate soccer’s championship win on Nov. 8.

Soccer wins 16 rovesames including OVC Championship, first time since 2009

Story by Mark McFarland, Assistant Sports Editor

Jenny Rohl/The News Rebecca Bjorkvall, senior midfielder, Racheal Foxley, senior defender, Nyomi Devine, sophomore defender and Taylor Stevens, senior midfielder, celebrate soccer’s championship win on Nov. 8.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Rebecca Bjorkvall, senior midfielder, Racheal Foxley, senior defender, Nyomi Devine, sophomore defender and Taylor Stevens, senior midfielder, celebrate soccer’s championship win on Nov. 8.

The Racers finished their record-breaking season with a school high 16 wins, the longest winning streak in school history, 11 wins and a perfect 10-0 record in the OVC.

Behind second year Head Coach Jeremy Groves, the Racers were able to fight their way to a conference championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Racheal Foxley, senior from Bolton, England, said that she gives Groves a lot of the credit for this season.

“We all have a competitive mindset, so when he said if you win this game you’re going to break this record,” she said. “It was kind of exciting and we wanted to break that record.”

Foxley is one of the only seniors who has been in the program all four years and she said having Groves as a coach was different but really made her time more enjoyable.

“Obviously having played four years here and obviously having the experience of playing under a different coach in Jeremy, it’s been completely different,” she said. “Jeremy came in and had a whole new way of coaching and we had to adapt to that.”

Behind leadership from Foxley and the other seniors, Groves said he knew that the team was capable of pulling off a season for the record books at the beginning of the year.

“I always knew that they had it in them. I think it was just a case of showing up and showing that,” Groves said. “I think the environment that we created here has given them the confidence to do that.”

Groves

Groves

The Racers, however, could not finish the year on a high note as they took a 1-0 loss to the University of Mississippi in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, snapping the 11 game winning streak. Groves said the game against Ole Miss was decent, but definitely not where he thinks the team should be.

“We could always get better defensively,” he said. “I think the NCAA Tournament game was decent, but I still don’t think we’re anywhere close to where we need to be or should be to compete with those kind of teams.”

During the regular season the Racers played two other SEC schools in Mississippi State and the University of Tennessee, defeating Mississippi State 2-1 and losing to the Volunteers 3-0.

Foxley said the Mississippi State game proved they could beat teams of that caliber.

“I think the moment that changed it for us was winning the Mississippi State game,” she said. “Not many people expected us to beat an SEC school, and we did that.”

Groves said one of his favorite moments of the season was posting an undefeated record in the OVC.

“I don’t think it has sunk in for some of the girls yet, but going 10-0 in the conference is something really, really special,” he said. “I just don’t know if other people will be able to match that again. I think our conference is becoming more and more level.”

Going into the spring and into next season, Groves said he thinks the team will be in good shape and feels that they are going to continue the legacy the seniors left behind this year.

Since the end of the season Groves and his coaching staff have not been able to hit the road for the recruiting trail, but he said this coming weekend is when he will begin to look for his new recruits at a camp in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“I think so far we have gotten over 200 emails from kids who want us to watch them play,” he said. “Even though it is a little overwhelming I think that it’s good to know we are getting the kind of exposure we want too. I think we went to the same event last year and we only had 18 emails.”

Nyomi Devine, sophomore from Beaudesert, Australia, returns as part of a defense that tied for second in the OVC in shutouts with eight.

Devine said she is excited to continue the legacy the seniors are leaving as the team prepares for the upcoming spring.

“Going into next year we definitely have some high standards to reach so the incoming players – it’s going to be tough for them,” she said. “We are going to have to get them used to the standard and keep it going.”