Game day excitement felt through inter-squad soccer scrimmage

Margaret Cecilio

The intense energy that comes along with a sports game is irreplaceable. However, given the circumstances of competition seasons being up in the air, teams on campus are trying out alternative ways to channel at least some of that game day hype. 
On Saturday, Oct. 18, at Thorson-Lucken Field, the womens’ soccer team held their first inter-squad scrimmage that was open to the public, with the stands filled with socially distanced family, friends and fans.  
“It was more of a chance to give us a sense of a true competition, because when no one’s there watching, there’s always a different feel to it. We exposed our players to that game day feel. We had music, we had an official warm up, we had plenty of people in the stands. So, it just gave them a little bit of a taste of what it’s like to prepare for when we do compete,” said head coach Scott Mejia. 
For first year players, this exposure to game flow was the first of their collegiate careers. 
“My main goal was just for the group to compete and really get after each other and try to win the game, so just instilling some of those really important mentalities was the main objective of the scrimmage yesterday,” Mejia said. 
The scrimmage was a well matched game, ending with a score of 3-2. The two teams battled it out, finally getting the chance to put their skills into action. The team has just recently moved out of the COVID pod phase (small group training) and is now able to work as a team and develop those on-field connections. 
As the separated training has turned into a more cohesive dynamic, the team is learning what they can accomplish together. 
“I think it was really good for the whole team, just to see how we can play together. For everyone to get to see each other in that competitive setting and really see what everyone can bring to the spring season,” Sydney Ion, senior goalie, said.
Ion had the opportunity to play one half of the match on each team, and during the second half, made three saves for her team. 
“Sydney made three unbelievable saves that she wouldn’t have made two years ago.That’s her growth and her confidence in her ability to deal with situations. That was really a pretty eye opening moment for us as a coaching staff,” Mejia said.“We saw some things happening yesterday that we’ve really been hoping for for some time, and it was just encouraging and positive to see.” 
Another senior on the team, defender Cameron Kekelik, is also glad to see the growth of the team as a whole on the field.
I feel like personally, and as a team, we had good ideas and were able to execute those ideas as well. We worked well together, and were able to really build up play, creating great chances,” Kekelik said. 
Although the scrimmage was not against another team, or a fight for league standing, it still meant a lot for everyone involved. It can be difficult to train for so long without a foreseeable goal. “It certainly doesn’t live up to what an actual game day feels like, but I think it really gave us a goal to work towards,” Ion said.
With parents flying in from out of state to watch the inter-squad scrimmage, families had a chance to cheer on their players who they may not have been able to see play in almost a year now. The soccer squad was cheered on with support from the crowd, adding to the value of the event.  
“It was really, really meaningful, probably emotionally and just for the mental health of everyone involved. It just felt normal,” Mejia said.
The team and coaching staff remain hopeful to continue competing and creating excitement for the Augie community. There are not any additional scheduled scrimmages yet, but the match was a successful event, so keep an eye out for alerts to get out to Thorson-Lucken Field and cheer on the women’s soccer team.