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Friday, Mar 31, 2023

Women’s club soccer bends it like the boys

The Mercer women’s club soccer team breaks it down before taking the pitch against Kennesaw State University.
The Mercer women’s club soccer team breaks it down before taking the pitch against Kennesaw State University.

Carson Moore hangs up her cleats for a clipboard on game day, but the former keeper-turned-coach runs through the drills with her girls like she’ll be in the starting lineup.

The women’s club soccer team is hard at work to make a name for themselves and step out of the shadows cast by the “big brother” boys’ team. The two teams have a wonderful relationship scrimmaging together and working out to make both teams better. The girls even got to play with the boys in the first season of club soccer two years ago. All of that changed when the boys moved into a league, and they could no longer field girls on game day. And a group of girls still came to practice and worked out despite knowing they would not get their chance to play. Yet.

All of that changed in the spring of 2015, as now-senior Carson Moore helped start a women’s club soccer team — a team dedicated just to the girls — and they finally had a purpose to go out and practice hard in anticipation of game day. Moore was one of the girls who stayed dedicated to practicing with the guys even when they did not have the chance to play. Moore finally had the opportunity this fall to step on the pitch and play in a women’s club soccer game, but instead she realized that the team did not need another player but a leader. Moore opted to be the team coach instead of stepping into the goal to play keeper.

“I watched my friend last year try to coach and play. It is hard to be a player-coach because if you mess up on the field it is hard to come back and be a leader. I decided to take that on myself, that I would rather be that leader,” Moore said “Being the older person who is there for them, taking care of paperwork, and leading practice.”

One sign of Moore’s leadership can be seen in how practices are run. Moore designs the practices by first going through them on her own. Then, during practices she goes through all of the workouts with the girls. She says that she doesn’t play in the games because she wants to be a good coach and “do this” for her players.

One of the players who she has already made an impact on is center midfielder Brittany Mueller, who has scored one goal and assisted on two more this season.

“I have quickly become great friends with Carson and having her as my coach is even better. We know our roles on the team and having someone to keep our team in check is just what we need, and Carson does just that,” Mueller said. “We are constantly progressing and I can thank Carson and our assistant coach, Shan Paracka, for that”

Club soccer takes the step up from intramural soccer to a different level. It gives the girls a chance to showcase their skills against other schools such as North Georgia, Alabama, Clemson, and South Carolina. Moore said it’s a more serious level of competition than intramurals but retains that same amount of fun.

“I’ve always loved playing soccer, and intramurals helped me fill that void when I got to Mercer. But I wanted something with an extra competitive edge,” Mueller said. “Club soccer really has helped me in getting back into the soccer shape I once had.”

The team competed last year in the intramural 11 vs 11 soccer tournament to get themselves ready for the year ahead, said the team’s advisor, Michael Castaneda.

“They are currently sitting with one win, two losses and one tie. They have played against teams like UGA, Kennesaw, Georgia College, and North Georgia. I know they have a couple more games coming up within this month both away and at home. The girls are really excited, and they have been improving with every game,” Castaneda said.

The team’s victory came against the University of North Georgia, while tying with Georgia College and State University.

The relationship has also developed with the men’s team under Austin Sigle. They have worked with each other on getting better but also in recruiting. The two teams are working hand-in-hand on getting players for each as that has been a struggle in the last couple of seasons.

“Austin and I have worked together on Bear Fair for the freshman and getting word out for each other because they are actually struggling for numbers more than we are now, which is kind of nice in that big brother-little sister way,” Moore said.

The women’s club soccer team is here to stay once again and is moving in a direction of their own. Moore said they hope to eventually join a league just like the guys have done. Both teams have been successful in their first few seasons and are among the most popular club sports offered at Mercer.

“I think it will be one of our bigger club sports. I see them growing over the next few years and being one of our big ones,” Castaneda said.


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