PASADENA, Calif. (Aug. 31, 2017) – On the night of Friday, Sept. 1 in Redlands, Calif., 15 young women will make history as they compete in the first intercollegiate women's soccer game in Caltech history.
From the day the addition of women's soccer was announced, upperclassmen canvassed campus for former high school players who had thought their careers were over. Meanwhile, courageous prospective first-years accepted the daunting challenge of starting a program from scratch. The determination of both groups has since coalesced to form a close-knit team that is eager to prove itself on the field.
"We have the skill, talent and drive to compete from the outset," Head Coach Taylor Houck said. "We're not just a first-year program trying to find ourselves. Sure, we're working on our formation and positioning, but we know exactly who we are in terms of attitude and work ethic. We can be as good as we want to be."
Seven newcomers join a group that has been anticipating this season for years. Rookies Nayla Abney (Sewell, N.J. / Deptford Township), Krystin Brown (Trabuco Canyon, Calif. / Trabuco Hills) and Rachel Sun (Tustin, Calif. / Arnold O. Beckman) arrive on the heels of impressive high school careers, along with four others, while several familiar upperclassmen have signed on. Senior Caroline Atyeo (Parkland, Fla. / Marjory Stoneman Douglas) appears on multiple cross country and track & field Top-10 lists from her first two years in college, while high school state champion junior Hana Keller (Sammamish, Wash. / Tesla STEM) has played two years of water polo and sophomores Gabriella Chan (Colleyville, Texas / School for the Talented and Gifted) and Noelle Davis (Fort Worth, Texas / Texas Acad. of Math & Science) have shifted over from participating on the men's team as freshmen.
"Our team leaders really embraced their role as campus ambassadors from the start, and it was a big leap of faith for the freshmen to commit to starting a team," Houck said. "It's been the perfect mix for us, and courage and determination are qualities that show up on the field."
The Beavers will play an abbreviated schedule in their first season, with one game against each fellow SCIAC member making up the bulk of the season. Houck also will take the team east to the Philadelphia area for a pair of games in mid-September, with one other non-conference game scheduled for Oct. 12 against La Sierra University.
"We have an intense opening schedule, with three games in seven days, but we're excited for it," Houck said. "This team loves competing and sees every game as an opportunity to translate the work we've done in practice. Our plan by the end of the year is to work toward a mindset where we are lining up believing we can be successful in any game we play."