The Lehigh women’s soccer team is staying positive and hopeful for a potential spring season.
But the bitter feeling from the fall season’s cancellation is still raw for some.
“It was really tough on the team when we first found out,” said junior forward and midfielder Courtney Supp. “During quarantine, we were working hard, doing workouts and trying to push each other to prepare for the fall season.”
For the seniors, the cancellation was especially difficult.
Senior midfielder Lisa Kestelboym said while the situation is upsetting, she is optimistic about playing in the 2020-2021 academic year.
“I am staying positive, and I am looking forward to the spring because if Lehigh as a community does well as a whole and follows the rules, we will have a better chance of playing in the spring,” Kestelboym said.
While the fall season may have been put on hold, the Mountain Hawks are still training.
After taking part in voluntary workouts for the first few weeks of the year, assistant coach Lauren Calabrese said the team has now moved into its second phase of training as of Sept 7. Now, it is able to meet for in-person practices with coaches.
Even though the team is allowed to have organized practices again, it is still proceeding with caution. The team of 28 women has been split into four groups of seven for practice. When the women arrive at practice, they are required to wear masks, show the coaches their HawkWatch COVID-19 Self-Assessment and have their temperatures taken. When practice begins, players can remove their masks.
Calabrese said she is making the most of the modified practices and is looking forward to training with the small groups.
“Soccer is a sport where we can focus on individual development, and we can scale it in a way which is really exciting to the coaching staff because normally we don’t get to train like this,” Calabrese said. “The silver lining from this is that we get to focus on development and cohesion as a team.”
The women have emphasized that they are committed to following the guidelines the university has put in place to keep the community safe. The Mountain Hawks are hopeful to have larger scale practices later this semester.
“We remain positive by reminding ourselves what we are working toward,” Supp said. “We are hopeful for full team practice in the middle of October. Right now, we just need to focus on taking the small steps to get there.”
While the times are trying, the women’s soccer team is working to make the most of it and is especially focused on cultivating their team culture.
“We have a great group of women who are committed to not just competing at a high level, but also to each other,” Calabrese said. “They’ve created a culture that is cohesive and representative of the program.”
The Patriot League has been considering allowing fall sports to compete in the spring, giving women’s soccer the possibility of a season. Supp said the team’s main goal for the fall is to make healthy and smart decisions, and this is what is ultimately going to help the women have a season come springtime.
“As long as we keep up good communication, keep our spirits up and lean on each other for support, we know we can get through this tough situation,” Kestelboym said.