The Simpson College women’s soccer team (13-5-1, 6-2 A-R-C) secured the No. 3 seed prior to beginning the 2021 American Rivers Conference Championship on Oct. 30. Their first opponent was the Central College Dutch where the Storm won a thriller in overtime 2-1. The win comes as the program’s first postseason victory since 2011. The Storm’s next challenge is Nov. 3 in Waverly, Iowa, against the Wartburg College Knights. The Knights (14-2-1, 7-1 A-R-C) are ranked No. 16 in the latest United Soccer Coaches Top-25 poll and won the regular season match between the teams 3-1 on Oct. 9.
“I think we’ve got to believe in ourselves and our ability to be able to go into Waverly and win,” Head Coach Jeremy Reinert said. “Wartburg’s a talented team, but we played them really close at home and I think the game was closer than the scoreline looked. So it’s just remembering how tight the game was earlier in October and knowing that we’ve got to pay attention to the details but we’re capable of going in there and winning.”
Outside of the A-R-C tournament, the team has had multiple A-R-C Player of the Week awards including, most recently, first-year Maddie Hays, who scored both of the goals against Central, both coming from penalty kicks.
“It’s hard because, in playoff season, you never know what everyone wants to win in progress,” Hays said. “So even though we did beat them in the regular season, there’s a different sort of passion on the field for both them and us. I think when we were down a goal, a lot of us realized that that could be our last 10 minutes together as a team, especially our seniors. But that’s the fun part of playing soccer is that it’s all unexpected. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Although it is the postseason, preparation is still the same.
“At this point in the season, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It’s all about fine-tuning, making sure we’re playing polished soccer,” Reinert said.
The Simpson College men’s soccer team (7-6-2, 5-2-1 A-R-C) fought their way to the highest seeding they have earned in a conference tournament since 2001. The team finished the regular season with three shutouts to earn the No. 2 seed after a tie between the Wartburg Knights and Luther Norse. Being the No. 2 seed gave the team a bye week to prepare for their first tournament contest against the Loras College Duhawks (11-6-2, 5-2-1 A-R-C) on Nov. 3 at Bill Buxton Stadium starting at 3 p.m.
“Loras is an aggressive physical team and they like to just be bigger I guess so-called men, than other teams, so the keys are just limit a lot of dead balls and restarts and just basically be the smarter team on the field,” junior Alan Imamovic said.
The Storm traveled to the Rock Bowl in Dubuque, Iowa, earlier this season where they defeated the Duhawks 2-1 with three seconds remaining in the contest.
“I suspect this conference tournament matchup will mirror our previous two meetings [spring and fall games],” Head Coach Rick Isaacson said. “The other significant factor will be which team handles their emotions more effectively throughout what will be a hard-fought game.”
The men’s team has also had A-R-C Player of the Week awards going to junior Jordy Triana-Vasquez and most recently Imamovic. Imamovic’s award comes after two assists this season and is a key player in the Storm’s defense. He has started in all 15 games this season and leads the team in minutes played with 1,383 minutes.
“We had kind of a rocky start to the season,” Imamovic said. “Just a lot of weird things going on this season, but I really like how our team has stuck through it all and never fell apart and crumbled when the bad times came. We just rallied together and helped each other be the best that we can.”
The Storm’s biggest challenge yet will come on Wednesday.
“Our team will be prepared and should be well-rested coming off that bye date,” Isaacson said. “It’s now a matter of application. Can we apply our game plan once the whistle blows on Wednesday?”