Warriors Hungry to Create Memorable Season

Submitted by: Kaci Mexico - July 29th, 2016

 

By Kaci Mexico
July 28, 2016

Before the 2015 season began, the Westmont Women’s soccer team had undergone significant changes that included losing eight seniors, and a head coaching change.

However, by the end of the 2015 season the Warriors were no longer characterized by their perceived obstacles, but were known by their unwavering success on and off the field. On the field, the #7 Warriors (16-4-2) were both the Golden State Athletic Conference Regular season and Tournament Champions, and they made it to the quarterfinals of the NAIA National Tournament.

Additionally, two Warriors were honored as NAIA All-Americans and five were named to the All-GSAC Team. Off the field, four Warriors were named as 2015 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athletes, and most recently the team went on a Missions trip to Uganda with the Sports Outreach Institute.

With a year under her belt, head coach Chantel Cappuccilli reflected on the 2015 season and shared her thoughts about the upcoming 2016 season.

Last Season Review:

“The 2015 season was a blessing. I believe we accomplished more than was expected of us. But, to be fair, I think all of us didn’t know exactly how it would play out. As a coaching staff, we will always work to give them the tools necessary to be successful on and off the field. To their credit, they bought in and listened to a new head coach. I believe the aspect of ‘team’ play was enhanced and we were able to get the most out of our roster. The experience level was young, but they proved their ability in the results we found. “

Cappuccilli continued and noted the significant contributions of last year’s senior class.

“Together last year’s senior class summed 8668 minutes of playing time across 22 games,” said Cappuccilli. “In a season where 64 goals were scored, they contributed 27 goals and 22 assists. Lauren Dorr also retained a 0.9 goals against average. We greatly appreciated their contributions on and off the field, but we are also confident that this year’s squad will make it a goal to outperform the year prior.

“I am proud of what we accomplished together in 2015 but believe we are in a better starting place heading into training camp and the season ahead.”

Focal Areas for Growth:

“With a coaching transition comes a learning curve,” explained Cappuccilli. “It’s not to be assumed that training sessions will look the same from a tactical standpoint. Adapting to change and expectation takes time. With the team having a year under their belt, the focal areas of growth will build off what should now be the norm within sessions.”

Cappuccilli believes that it is imperative that the team continues to grow in these specific areas: “Effective and clear communication from top to bottom, coordination with the ball and coordination without the ball (movement and tactical recognition) which includes continued growth in precision of distribution, speed of execution (play) and rhythm (passing, dribbling, finishing), and knowing when/how to apply the appropriate pressure defensively.”

Cappuccillli is also passionate about the spiritual and relational growth of her players, on and off the playing field.

“Our culture is unique,” explained Cappuccilli. “We love each other in outrageous ways and at the same time, demand a lot from each other – all with the aim of pointing one another to Christ. I want the team to continue to grow in their ability to rejoice, worship and possess an enjoyment in playing all while trying to out-work the person next to them. I want them to share their passion with their teammates and spectators alike.”

This Year’s Theme:

Last season, Cappuccilli introduced the idea of establishing a theme that the entire team would work to embody throughout the season. Last year that theme was Grace and Resilience, and this season it is Passion and Purpose.

“The purpose of our life is far greater than personal fulfillment,” said Cappuccilli. “God’s ultimate goal for our life on earth is not comfort, but character development. He wants us to grow spiritually and become like Christ. To glorify Him and bring Him praise. Bringing God pleasure is called “worship” and worship is a lifestyle – a lifestyle that does not exclude the soccer field. We can reflect Christ in our play, in our character, and in the way we serve and love our teammates and community. If we are to reflect our purpose as a lifestyle, we must commit to being a purpose driven team and program. Purpose and athletics are not opposing, they are intertwined. Soccer is a part of their life, so how they live their purpose while playing a collegiate sport matters.”

“We must exude passion in our play, attitude, approach and relationships,” continued Cappuccilli. “Sport requires discipline, devotion and sacrifice. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a passion and a will to do what it takes in discipline to sacrifice for the greater good of the team and something greater than you.

“We chose the theme of Passion & Purpose because it helps communicate ways for us to keep perspective for our ultimate meaning in life,” concluded Cappuccilli. “Much more than the soccer, we are doing life together. As a coaching staff, it is important to provide tools for the team to develop their understanding of why we play the game & how we want to play it with a Christ centered mindset.”

Key Returners:

The Warriors will return six starters from last season: three seniors – Brooke Lillywhite, Sophie Fuller, and Grace Lemley; and three juniors – Alanna Richards, Destinee Adams, and Jackie Lopez.

Last season, Lillywhite tallied nine goals and was tied for second on the team in assists with eight. She started all 22 games, was named to the All-GSAC team, and honored as an NAIA All-American. “Brooke was a dominating magician in the midfield last season, and in my opinion, top class within the NAIA,” explained Cappuccilli. “Her play speaks for itself and I can’t wait to see the magic she produces this year.”

“I believe we will see the best of Grace Lemley in 2016,” continued Cappuccilli. “She’s done the work to put herself in a great position to be a threatening outside back, with a strong presence and precision in her distribution; she will do big things for our back line.”

“Sophie Fuller is coming into her second year as captain and has a tremendous knack for leading, and leading by example in her play,” noted Cappuccilli. “She commands our defensive unit and it will be beautiful to see how she leads and performs at the height of her career.” Last season, Fuller was named to the All-GSAC team and received NAIA Honorable Mention.

“Alanna Richards had a standout sophomore performance and helped instill moments of beauty in the midfield,” said Cappuccilli. “I look forward to having her presence as an upperclassman, as a respectable leader and as an asset to execute what we desire stylistically.” Last season, Richards tallied five goals and two assists; she was also named to the All-GSAC team.

Last season, Lopez, who started all 22 games, was the team’s second leading goal scorer (12 goals), and was tied for second in assists (8 assists). She was also named to the All-GSAC team. “Jackie is dynamic, consistent and provides diversity in multiple positions in the attacking third of the field,” explained Cappuccilli. “I am always impressed with her ability to execute in a fashionable way; she also has some of the best celebrations while doing it.”

Destinee is methodically purposeful in her play and is highly effective,” said Cappuccilli. “She now has significant experience the past two seasons and look forward to the ways experience will transcend in her leadership and play.” Adams tallied two goals and one assist last season.

Cappuccilli noted juniors Amber Rojas and Haley Parzonko as other key returning players.

“Amber has competed, preserved and has worked hard to be a dominating goalkeeper,” said Cappuccilli. “I look forward to seeing a full picture of her presence and ability in the coming season. Haley is driven, zesty in her technical capabilities and adds a fun flare to our attacking group. It will be wonderful to see her flourish this season as well.”

Schedule:

After beginning with an away scrimmage against Cal Poly SLO and an away Exhibition match against UCSB, the Warriors will embark upon an 18 game schedule characterized by eight home games and ten away games.

Cappuccilli shared her thoughts about the strength of this year’s schedule.

“It is important to schedule challenging opponents in preseason to help prepare us for the competition we face during conference play,” explained Cappuccilli. “We will be traveling to Kansas to take on highly ranked #4 Benedictine College and #14 Baker University. Overall, we will be playing two institutions in the NCAA, Azusa Pacific University who rank among the Top 25 in DII and finished in the Western Regional Finals in the NCAA tournament and University of Redlands, who captured the regular season SCIAC Championship in 2015. Additionally we will face our scheduled GSAC competitors where we will play two other opponents with high NAIA rankings, #12 Biola and #10 Vanguard.”

The Warriors will begin training camp on August 4 and just under a week later on Wednesday August 10 they will travel to San Luis Obispo to face the Cal Poly Mustangs in a scrimmage. Three days after that, they will play in an Exhibition match against the UCSB Gouchos.

“Both games are always great to have, with two fun atmospheres to play in,” shared Cappuccilli. “Playing under the lights against strong NCAA Big West Conference competition are highlights for our team in preseason. Per usual, these are our first two matches – which help gauge where we best see players moving into position.

“This year, the games come abruptly, but we look forward to meeting the challenge and plugging in our line up against theirs. Our goal is to have the team ready to go within the first week of camp – challenging, but not impossible.”

Cappuccilli used the word “Hungry” to characterize this year’s team.

“I believe we are on the brink of doing something special,” explained Cappuccilli. “Our missions trip to Africa was a gift. Not only was it life changing, but it gave us a beautiful awareness of our ability to do what so many others only dream of. The women recognize their opportunity and I believe their hunger to bring their experience to the playing field will make for a remembered season.