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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Women’s soccer team has high hopes for this season

Published: August 22, 2014
Section: Sports

“Everyone always says it, but our team is a family,” said Alec Spivack ’15, one of the captains of the Brandeis women’s soccer team. “My best friends, study buddies and shopping partners are all in one place.”

And it is a good thing that the women’s soccer team is a close-knit family, because they are currently spending 24/7 with each other. Pre-season training kicked off on Aug. 15, and the captains are already setting their sights high. “This coming year as a team our pinnacle goal is to make it to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament,” said Spivack.

The Hoot sat down with three of the four team captains, to discuss everything from how they became leaders to their favorite moments on the field.

Spivack, who plays center back or central midfield, was an experienced player before she reached Brandeis. “I was aware of the responsibilities [of leadership] entering college, but as a freshman you are humbled; you are surrounded by 30 other leaders. I made hard sacrifices from freshman year to now, and I always did what no one wanted to do: picking up cones after practice, searching for soccer balls that went over the fence, jogging in and out of water breaks.” Spivack reported that the title of captain has a special significance for her, because the entire team must nominate and vote for captain. “You know that not only did your coach think you could lead your team, but your teammates felt this way as well. This has empowered me to strive to become a better captain,” she said.

Other captains of the women’s soccer team include Sapir Edalati ’15, Emma Eddy ’15 and Michelle Savuto ’15. Savuto recalls that she was inspired to lead from the first day she got on campus: “I came to the first day of preseason with the mindset that I wanted to make an impact for the squad and that has been my motivation ever since,” she said. Eddy was a transfer student, so her path to becoming a captain was slightly different. “I transferred to Brandeis for my sophomore year from Union College and immediately the school and team felt like home,” she said. “It’s great to play with a group that is not only committed to a very high level of soccer but also develops strong friendships.” Eddy is the outside right defender, while Savuto plays goalkeeper.

Savuto explained a little about what the season holds for the team. “Our preseason starts on Saturday the 16th, so we will be hard at work until our first games in late August and early September. We practice hard every day for about two hours at a time unless it is before or after a game when we work on strategy rather than endurance. In my mind, every single game is the most important one, but our UAA games that come later in the season are typically our biggest challenges,” she said.

In order to prepare for the season ahead, the captains thought back to their favorite moments over their years of playing for Brandeis. These are the memories that are also motivators. “My favorite memory playing soccer was definitely our entire NCAA experience sophomore year [2012-2013]. I remember being in the room when it was announced that we had made it into the tournament, and the sense of euphoria I felt was unlike any other,” said Savuto.

Both Spivack and Eddy have similar favorite memories. Spivack discussed the same NCAA experience, saying “My favorite memory thus far was two years ago when we were playing at Amherst College in the Round of 16. We won in with seconds left in the game, making it to the Elite Eight, the farthest advancement in Women’s Soccer history at Brandeis.” Eddy recalled a victory in the same tournament over a particular rival of hers: “My favorite memory I’ve had while playing soccer at Brandeis is my favorite soccer memory to date. Our NCAA tournament first round win against Union College (my former team) 1-0. The whole tournament experience and making it to the Elite Eight was incredible,” she said.

As the team has begins practice with high hopes of getting back into the NCAA tournament, all captains will focus on team chemistry. “We definitely have a strong focus on staying defensively solid and organized. In attitude, I would say both [the men’s and women’s soccer] teams want to be successful but stay positive in the process, team chemistry is important for both of us,” said Eddy.

And this year, the captains want Brandeis students out there cheering them on. Spivack commented that recently, the Brandeis school spirit has increased, though athletics and academics remain too separated. “I think Upper Campus is becoming more intertwined with Athletics, and both President Fred Lawrence and [Senior Vice President of Students and Enrollment] Andrew Flagel have led the way in this movement. Both make extreme efforts to attend games, and to voice their support for the athletic community,” she said. With an eye toward the future, she added: “I think that SAAC will need to continue to collaborate with other organizations on campus to truly foster school spirit that includes athletics. Within 10 years, I believe Brandeis will have fans with their stomachs and faces painted at games, where students will be losing their voices the next day after having yelled so much at a Brandeis sporting event.”