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As senior Lexi Bumby laced up her cleats for the first Lady Bruin soccer game of the season, she felt prepared to take on the Rolla Bulldogs. But just as soon as the excitement began, disappointment replaced it. Due to rain, the game was cancelled. Since March 16, the varsity team has faced three more cancellations.
“It’s kind of frustrating because we get really excited to play and then it starts raining and the games get cancelled,” Bumby said. “When the games get cancelled, then we normally just practice.”
Sophomore player Alexus Carson agrees the weather issues cause an annoyance. But Carson has found an upside to the lack of games.
“We have more time to bond with the team and all the girls,” Carson said. “We get to practice more before facing an opponent. It’s good to have more time to work together.”
Despite the extra practice time, Carson believes the team’s connection could be better. Because there were not a large number of girls at tryouts, the C-team was cut leading to a much younger JV team.
“It’s really hard for our team to come together because we don’t know each other that well,” Carson said. “The freshmen go to a completely different school so sometimes the sophomores and freshmen kind of separate. But not having a C-team is just one less team to worry about because they were kind of a drag in the past.”
Just as Carson believes the age difference of JV provides problems, coach Kyle Austin agrees the talent pool is challenging to manage. With a more diverse team, it is difficult to pinpoint what skills need to be improved and how to challenge the girls.
“I think [not having a C-team] greatly affects not just the [JV] but also the varsity because when you have fewer players in the program obviously that’s going to dilute the talent pool quite a bit, and so what used to be the JV players playing with similar abilities, similar age groups and similar soccer skills is now combined into two different age groups,” Austin said. “It can be frustrating at times, and it can be tough at practices to make sure that everyone is involved and everyone is being challenged because the skills are so spread out.”
While Carson believes communication is difficult for the JV team, Bumby believes that is where the varsity girls thrive. Even with the connection, though, the Lady Bruins have struggled to adjust to the new formations.
“Last year we played a 4-4-2 formation, and this year we’ve been trying to switch to a 3-5-2. We’ve played the best when we played the 4-4-2 formation because that’s what we’re used to,” Bumby said. “We’ve been doing well figuring out how to connect, and now our focus is getting the new formations down so we can continue to play with those.”
Despite the slight confusion related to the change to a 3-5-2 structure and younger team, the varsity record remains 5-2.
“We still have a really strong defense and an equally strong offense,” Bumby said. “It’s important that we have both because we help each other in all aspects. Even though there are a lot of new things this year to the team, we’re just as strong and on top of our game as previous years if not better.”
By Maddie Davis