Hawks conquer adversity to push for playoff spot

Despite injuries to multiple players and some recent defeats, the women’s soccer team is pressing on.

While the Hawks have gone through rough times with at least three players being injured, they have seen steady improvement as the season has progressed.

“I think we’ve done pretty well, considering all the injuries we’ve had,” said sophomore forward Andrea Story.

“We’re right at the .500 mark and we’re on our way to make it to playoffs, so I think we’re doing pretty good.”

Head coach Cesar Plasencia said he is looking forward to continued growth for the team.

“We have not yet exceeded expectations. We’re close though; that’s one of our objectives,” said Plasencia.

He talked about the players’ improvements and how they are better understanding what he expects from them.

Plasencia also spoke about the different ways that the team is already improving, including having to learn how to play without the players who have been injured.

“We’ve had to learn how to adjust around them, those players that are not there, and I feel like we’re getting closer to that,” said Plasencia.

While players are certainly focused on constant improvement, they are happy with how the team is performing currently.

“As a whole, we definitely have our ups and downs, but we’re doing really good coming back from defeat,” said freshman midfielder Averen Calvin. “We have the fight in us, definitely.”

Calvin is the team’s leading scorer this season with eight goals in 16 games, in addition to four assists. She also has contributed three multi-goal games this     season, all of which came in wins for the Hawks.

Story and Calvin have been able to help each other out a lot this season, making themselves and the team better.

The pair have spent significant time together on the field, and it has helped turn them into a 1-2 punch as they continue to support each other.

It’s made for a combo that has provided great scoring opportunities for the two leading scorers.

“I’m happy with the chances that myself, and me and Andy [Story] have created for each other.”

The team is currently [6-7-5] overall this season, including a [4-5-3] record in the Big 8 Conference.

The team is on track to surpass its [8-11-3] overall record from last season, including [4-8-2] in conference.

Players talked about how one of the biggest improvements that the team needs to make is “staying on frame,” which means trying to keep the ball lined up between the goalposts as much as possible.

“We’re just trying to continue to get progress and goals,” said freshman goalkeeper Elizabeth Kowalczyk.

The team is also working on a new formation in practices in an effort to increase scoring opportunities and be more aggressive.

“We went from a 5-3-2, which is five defenders in the back, but that was more defensive,” said Story.

“We switched to a 4-4-2, so then we can have more attackers up top.”

The players also shared how they feel their individual contributions to the team have been important.

Kowalczyk said she tries to be a positive influence for the rest of her team.

“I feel like my contribution is more positive,” said Kowalczyk. “I’m trying to motivate everybody to be the best that they can.”

While Plasencia said that every team is different, he is appreciative of the high character and strong work ethics that this year’s team has brought to the table.

“This is just a really, really good group of girls,” said Plasencia.

“They genuinely are decent to each other, they treat each other kindly,” he said.

The Hawks will continue to fight for a playoff spot in the final weeks of the season, with hopes of making it to the postseason for the second consecutive year.

The Hawks’ next game is on Friday at American River College at 5 p.m.