The TJC men’s and women’s soccer teams have a lot to live up to after posting undefeated seasons and capping it with national championships this past winter.
After basking in the glory for several weeks, they now realize it’s time to get back to the basics and the fundamentals that got them to the top last year.
Women’s head coach Corey Rose, as well as men’s head coach Steve Clements, both feel that the work they put in right now during the offseason will dictate how they fare next season.
Both teams are currently in their spring season where they are primarily focusing on conditioning and weight training in between playing several games. This is also a time of the year when many of the players are evaluated by the coaches to see who has the edge on starting next season.
With all the recent success, neither coach feels much pressure though to maintain their spot at the top. Coach Clements in particular doesn’t feel his team has expectations to live up to.
“From year to year each team is different, but we’ve got a great group coming back that knows what it takes to win,” Clements said.
Although both teams will be losing key players from their championship squads, they will both be returning at least 10 players as well as several starters.
Winning the national championship is also helping to spark interest from talented high school and foreign recruits on the women’s side.
“Recruitment is going very well right now. There is a lot of interest from some pretty talented players,” Rose said.
Coach Rose went on to say that the team he is putting together for next season may have more talent than the one that won the national championship, but that also doesn’t mean they will be handed anything either.
“Last year we didn’t have the most talented team (in the national tournament), but I believe we worked the hardest,” Rose said.
On the men’s side, some of the players feel as though they have set the standard and now must continue to build on their success.
“I feel like the only way to top what we did last season is to win it all again,” freshman Refael “Junior” Amaya said. “But this time we can’t just win games by one or two goals, we have to blow everyone out.”
After both teams received their championship rings on Feb. 24, they feel that winning another one is the only correct way to leave their mark at TJC. The thought of winning another ring also helps the players to push themselves harder every day.
“I really want to win it again next year and knowing that every team will come after us next year helps motivate us,” freshman Claudia Saucedo said.
Neither the men nor the women want to know what it feels like to lose a single game during their career at TJC.
“We didn’t lose a game last year, and we don’t want to know what that feeling is like,” freshman Kyle Nichollas said. “It would be really cool to be able to say I didn’t lose a game while I was here.”
Next fall cannot come soon enough for the players because they cannot wait to begin defending their titles.