Becca Langys/Photo Editor
MACOMB, Ill. — Soccer is not just a fall sport. For the Western Illinois soccer program, play in both the fall and the spring. Though their main season for The Summit League conference takes place in the fall, the spring season is very important for the development of the players in the soccer program.
The men’s team kicked off their season on March 2, against IUPUI. It was the Leathernecks‘ first game of the season, and they were looking to start off the season on a high note. However, in their first road game, they did not win or lose. Instead, the match ended with a 1-1 tie. The Purple and Gold are coming off a very disappointing fall season. They finished the fall season with a 4-10-3 record and a 1-3-1-conference record. Obviously, there are plenty of things the team can improve on, but it all comes down to the development of the team’s young players. Western Illinois will have 20 returning players for next season. The Leathernecks will be trying to grow as a team first and foremost. During the spring season, records don’t necessarily have much meaning. These games are all exhibition contests, but the team will look to develop their chemistry. Chemistry is really important in all sports, but more importantly sports like soccer. Knowing where your teammates are at all times and developing trust will be what the team will be looking to create in these upcoming games.
The women’s soccer team started off their season against the University of Iowa Hawkeyes on March 2. The game took place on the road in Iowa City. The Leathernecks were hoping to start off their season on a positive note, after a very rocky start in the fall campaign in 2018. However, Western Illinois lost in a very one-sided matchup against the Hawkeyes. The Leathernecks lost by a score of 7-0. Though the team failed to get on the scoreboard, it was still only the first time they have played together since the fall.
This is a very young team that is only getting better. Just like the men’s squad, the spring season will be a period of time where they look to grow not only as individuals, but as a team. Western Illinois will be losing senior forward Madeline Edwards next season, as she is set to graduate in May. The Leathernecks will look to hand over the keys to some of the young players in the program, and a name to keep an eye out for will be the sister of Madeline, Laurel Edwards. The freshman was off to a very promising start during her first season until she was taken out at the end of the season with an injury. The Leathernecks will try to rebound from a 3-14-1 season and the man in charge with the task in doing so is coach Director of Soccer Eric Johnson.
With the surplus of young talent Johnson has, it is going to be very fun to watch these two teams develop into potentially the best teams in The Summit League.