The Muhlenberg women’s soccer team has a 4-7-4 record with two games remaining this season, but that mark may not accurately portray their success when they take the pitch at Varsity Field. The past two seasons, the Mules have set a goal to not lose games at home. Going into this season they had a five game streak at home where they hadn’t lost a game.
Even when the team fell short this season against Gettysburg in double overtime, breaking their nine-game home non-losing streak, they bounced right back tying Kean last Wednesday night. This season the lady Mules home record is 2-1-2.
Being one of only four teams in the conference, who are equipped with a grass field, creates a challenge for teams in the Centennial who travel to Varsity Field to play the Mules. Assistant Coach Anna-Kate Depaolo—better known as Tattie—explains how they create the opportunity to have the advantage when playing at home, “We encourage the girls to have cleats with studs in them, other teams tend to slip a lot against us because of not having proper shoes.” Since many other teams aren’t use to a grass field, the Mules are confident knowing that they are equipped and prepared on how to play on a grass field daily.
Senior midfielder, Carly DeNigris ’18, also explained how having the right equipment can give the team the upper hand. “The home field advantage definitely comes into play when the conditions of the field are particularly wet because most of the team owns metal-studded cleats, while opposing teams usually lack this advantage. It allows us to stay on our feet more and move more efficiently.” When playing on turf in general, the balls pace and spin is completely different then it is when playing on a grass field. The turf creates the ball to bounce higher and move quicker, while a grass field can have uneven terrain to create the ball to move in different directions. These obstacles take time to get use to; nonetheless, the Mules have adapted their style of play to their field conditions on a daily basis.
The ladies play with a chip on their shoulder when their games are at Varsity Field. The mentality of not losing on home turf has instilled a competitive mindset in the Mules. DePaolo explains, “(Home games) create a mentality for the girls to not let opponents come to our field and win.” They have continuously shown the heart they put out on the field whenever they’re at home. “Our team really thrives at home under the lights with our home crowd. With our friends and families in the stands we feed off of their energy and are able to perform well together,” DeNigris explains about the women’s ability to capitalize on home field advantage in the past two seasons.
The women’s soccer team has one last showdown at home on Oct. 28, at 7 pm against Washington College.