Though the Lehigh women’s soccer season is played in the fall and has not been altered by the coronavirus pandemic, the team is still adjusting to the effects of the turn to remote training and practice.
While the team plays its scheduled matches in the fall, the players use the spring semester to prepare for the following season and to work on their cohesiveness as a unit. This spring, the team would also have competed in four games, said head coach Eric Lambinus.
“Our spring semester, which is our competitive portion, is a significant part of our preparation for next year,” Lambinus said. “This is the time where some players who are ready to take on roles get that opportunity, so it is pretty hard on us.”
The team may be physically apart, but the coaches have used Zoom to help ensure the team stays in shape for the upcoming season. The players have worked closely with the coaches to create daily schedules of workouts to do while at home.
Each week, each player receives a daily workout plan consisting of everything from cardio, lifting, technical workouts and agility training, said junior defender Mackenzie Anton.
“We are all doing the same types of workouts, which is great to keep the team together,” said fellow junior defender Libby Andrews. “This helps us hold ourselves accountable for our workouts.”
The team is split into groups of three so players can work together and become closer as teammates. These groups are tasked with keeping each other accountable and checking in on each other, to make sure that they are doing well both mentally and physically during this time.
“The team has done a really good job of staying connected and continuing to work in preparation for whatever happens next year,” Lambinus said.
The players also have Zoom meetings without the coaches to help continue the team bonding they are missing out on this semester. The juniors use these meetings to continue to show leadership to their team and guide them through this unprecedented time.
“We use the Zoom meetings to check-in and ask how everyone is doing with the quarantine,” Andrews said. “We even do fun little team Kahoots and team trivia, which helps us keep connected.”
With first-year players joining the team during the fall semester, Lambinus said the pandemic could potentially make it easier for them to acclimate into the team. There has been an increased amount of communication with the incoming first-years and the team, he said.
Lambinus also said with the six-month hiatus, the team will get more time to acclimate back into the season.
“The NCAA will probably be pretty diligent about setting more strict rules for acclimation and return to play,” Lambinus said.
The extra time to get ready for the season will give the incoming freshmen more time to integrate into the team instead of immediately being thrown into a game, he said.
The team is also taking into consideration the potential that this virus might affect their fall season. While the players remain hopeful that will not be the case, they are prepared for the possibility.
Anton recognized the possibility, but it is not her main focus.
“We are trying to take it day-by-day and just focus on what we can control,” Anton said. “But, there is always that thought in the back of our minds that something could happen.”
When the women’s soccer team can return to the field, it hopes to improve its 2019 record (5-8-5) and work its way back into the Patriot League Tournament.