Women’s soccer celebrates season

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IVCC women’s soccer players gather for a team picture.

Hope Beelman and Naomi Ochuba

Celebrations were in order for Head Coach Rey Arteaga and the Illinois Valley Community College’s Women’s Soccer team on Friday, April 23. The team defeated rival Rock Valley College 2-0 in the third game of a season that almost did not happen. 

“We had about 20 teams lined up on our roster to play, and then it just kept reducing until it became only five,” Arteaga said. In addition to only being able to compete against five schools, he also saw his number of girls reduce as well from 15 to 13. 

He was still ready to take on the 2021 season with all things considered, and so were two of his sophomore players, Lilibeth Garcia and Sabrina Poole. 

“We always look forward to practices and seeing and playing with our teammates,” expressed Garcia when describing the team’s practices. “As a defender, we focus more on our positioning and moving the ball up to our midfield.” 

Poole explained that her role as a midfielder focuses on moving the ball more than other athletes in different positions. 

“Our practices usually consist of working on what can be improved,” emphasized Poole adding onto what Garcia mentioned. “They are usually upbeat practices; Meagan [Morris] always brings her speaker, so it is always a very fun environment. Yet, we do know when we need to focus and work on what we need to succeed.” 

The athletes’ determination and focus caused them to see an improvement in their soccer skills over the years from when they first started learning about the sport to their time on the team. 

The coach and two sophomore athletes began playing at young ages and he attests to seeing improvements in their gameplay in just two short years. 

“Lily is very strong with the ball and has a good handle on it and Sabrina has come a long way because of all the extra work she puts in,” he said of Garcia and Poole, who is one of the team’s captains. 

Although this season and team have faced difficulties and pushbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic just like others have, they were still able to reminisce about their favorite memories. 

“I enjoy the bus rides to and from games and just being with my team,” Garcia mentioned. “I also enjoy playing alongside Sabrina who I’ve grown really close with. All in all, the best part is picking on Rey and it has become my favorite pastime.” 

“My favorite memory from playing on the team would be when we were celebrating someone’s birthday on the team after a win and some of us girls decided it would be a good idea to smash cupcakes in our coaches’ faces,” added Poole. Arteaga also recounted his best moment with the Lady Eagles: their first win in the 2019-2020 season. “I was so happy that I couldn’t stop crying and then the girls started crying with me. It was such a great day,” Arteaga said. 

Garcia and Poole both fondly reflect on their years with the IVCC Women’s Soccer team with gratitude due to the lessons they learned and friendships that were created. 

“Honestly, playing for IVCC was the best decision I have made in my soccer career,” stated Garcia when speaking on her overall experience on the team. “I think it also made the transition from high school to college a lot easier being that I already knew people before starting my first semester. It’s just fun to get to know new people and getting close with the team and growing and improving together.” 

Poole elaborated by outlining advice for first-year athletes on the team and to those looking to play in the future, “Play every game like it is your last, especially when time passes right by. If you do decide to play soccer, just know the team will be just like your second family.”

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