The Muhlenberg women’s soccer team took the field during their Conference match against Haverford on Sept. 19 more colorful than usual. Literally.
The Mules were participating in Play with Pride week, which took place from Sept. 17 to the 23 and featured teams across the country wearing rainbow shoe laces in their cleats to show support for the LGBTQ community. This is the Mules first time working with the United Soccer Coaches’ association which organized this event for the second time in as many years.
“The team was happy to participate and be involved. They have been advocates of having an inclusive team environment and want to show their support of student-athletes of all different backgrounds,” said Mules first year Head Coach Kelly Wakeman.
The Mules were held scoreless after the first half and had allowed one goal to the Haverford Fords. As they took the field for the second half, rainbow laces a bit muddier than before, they looked to even the score. Danni Steigerwald ‘20 took matters into her own hands. With just over five minutes left in the match the Mules were awarded a free kick. Casarah Morales ‘20 took the set play and sent the ball to the six-yard box on the near post. After a few failed clearance attempts by Haverford the ball pinballed its way to Steigerwald who blasted a shot into the back of the net. Regulation expired without any more scoring action.
The Mules and Fords went back and forth trading not-so-threatening scoring opportunities in the first overtime forcing a second OT period. No matter what, this extra time would be the last opportunity for the teams to conclude. With less than three minutes on the clock Haverford came down the right side of the field. The Fords scored the decisive goal just in time as they spoiled the Mules special day.
The hashtag #PlayWithPride features pictures of players, teams, coaches and fans with the colorful laces being worn on shoes, in hair and as bracelets. Although the movement was originally intended for all levels of soccer, from youth to professional, other sports have followed suit. Most notable, on the Twitter page for the Play with Pride hashtag, many field hockey teams participated in the efforts to raise awareness.
Based in Kansas City, Mo., The United Soccer Coaches organization is the world’s largest soccer coaches organization according to its website. The web page continues, “United Soccer Coaches is committed to fostering diversity by offering a welcoming and supportive environment for its members, leadership and other constituents, and to nurturing a learning and working environment that respects differences in culture, age, gender, race, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation, religious affiliation and socio-economic status.”
Play with Pride was a success for the USC as their website explained that the organization had given out all shoe laces to colleges willing to participate. They are already looking for donations for their 2019 Play with Pride week.
Although the loss, Wakeman was glad the Mules could participate in the nation wide event. “Participating in a program such as United Soccer Coaches Play With Pride shows that as a team we support inclusion and diversity. It is also important to celebrate the contributions of LGBTQ players, coaches, support staff, referees, and fans to the game of soccer.”
The Women’s next game will be against in Bryn Mawr on October 2. Their next home action is during Fall break on Sat Oct. 6th against Johns Hopkins.