Following Texas State’s soccer team’s Nov. 4 conclusion of their 2018 campaign, head coach Kat Conner and her squad look back at a triumphant season.
The team won the Sun Belt Conference regular season title and achieved an overall record of 11-5-4, with 8-0-2 in conference play. All five of the Bobcats losses came during away games and the team remained undefeated at home.
Senior midfielder Jamie Brown said the season was a success because of the effort of the team members.
“I saw this season as a success because starting on August, up until today, every player has come out every day and given everything they have for not just themselves, but for the success of the team,” Brown said. “Winning conference just put that cherry on top of it all.”
Texas State clinched the regular season championship and was the No. 1 seed in the conference with a 1-0 victory against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, the same team that eliminated them from the postseason in 2017.
Senior midfielder Kelly Barbalias said the loss hurt especially when compared to the previous season.
“We’ve been working for this for four years so falling short of that has always been kind of hard, especially last year when we came so close,” Barbalias said. “Being able to capture this moment and capture the win and the title is amazing.”
In Sun Belt Tournament play, the Bobcats defeated the Troy Trojans 1-0 and bested the South Alabama Jaguars 4-2 in penalty kicks. Unable to repeat the same feat, the Bobcats fell 6-5 from penalty kicks to the Little Rock Trojans in the championship final.
For Conner and the team, the loss, while disappointing, will only light a fire under a squad that will see nearly every member return next fall, except for the two seniors.
“Walking off that field losing is going to drive us,” said Conner. “It’ll drive the coaching staff, it’ll drive the players. We’re going to work that much harder to not let that happen again next year.”
Star junior forward Kaylee Davis led the Bobcats on offense with a team-high of 16 goals in the regular season. Davis scored at least one goal in 12 of the Bobcats 17 regular season matchups and added two more goals during the postseason. For comparison, the rest of the team combined scored 10 goals.
Having a player with the skill and talent Davis brings to the team proved to be a weakness because of the reliance on one player to generate offense.
“I think Kaylee Davis was phenomenal at finishing but there’s got to be more finishers,” said Conner. “I think we wore out the Kaylee trail just because all tournament long, they put three people on her and that means there have to be other people who step up and finish our chances for us. If they’re going to put three people on Kaylee, we need to make them pay.”
Moving forward, Conner said she sees potential in the upcoming freshman recruits and sees several players on the squad now who are a step away from being offensive threats to compliment Davis.
“I think Haley Groff has the potential to be a big-time goal scorer for us, there’s a couple of them,” Conner said. “Remy Moore just needs to tweak her game a little more and she can be hitting some unbelievable shots.”
On the defensive front, junior goalkeeper Heather Martin created an impenetrable wall around the goal, amassing 91 saves on the season and allowing just eight goals.
Heartbreak aside, Conner sees the season as a success and reminds her team of all they achieved, but expects them to not rest on their laurels and be ready to compete when the time comes once again.
“I told them all the way home how proud I am of all of them, how much I think they achieved. They achieved greatness, they did,” said Conner. “You know what, now its time to prepare for another conference championship.”