The duality of youthful energy and seasoned experience helped lead the women’s soccer team this season. Freshman defender Gabriella Marchal and senior defender Ali King both received WCC awards for their outstanding performances.
Marchal was named to the WCC All-Freshman team, while King closed out her LMU career by earning a spot on the WCC Second Team All-Conference team.
“[This award] means a lot,” said Marchal. “I didn’t play at all the first game [of the season], so it really shows how much I feel like I’ve improved as a soccer player. I liked it because I felt down a lot in the season sometimes, so it felt nice to [be] recognized for all the work.”
King also expressed gratitude for her award, noting that it was especially rewarding to get recognized during her last season on the team.
“It feels great,” said King. “As a senior, you kind of want to make everything the last hurrah and play for yourself and for your teammates, and so I think that the award reflects how I was able to do that.”
As two of the star defenders on the team, King and Marchal grew a lot closer as the season went on. Despite the difference in age, both players learned from one another and helped each other improve their skills.
“We’ve gotten along really well as teammates,” said King. “We definitely developed into a relationship where she, as a freshman, was comfortable giving me critiques and advice, and obviously vice versa.”
Because of her central position on the field, Marchal found herself needing to step up into a significant leadership role as a freshman. While unfamiliar at first, King and the other upperclassmen helped Marchal adjust to the new responsibility and find her confidence.
“I learned [a lot] from the seniors, they’re all super supportive. Being a center defender you have to be more vocal, so they made me definitely feel a lot more comfortable being vocal on the field and not being afraid to do what’s best for the team,” said Marchal.
While Marchal was supported by the older players, she and the other freshmen helped the upperclassmen as well by bringing new energy and technique to the team’s dynamic.
“I’m always learning from my teammates,” said King. “Every year you get a new group of freshmen and they all bring their unique talents and skills, so it’s kind of always a learning process of how you work well together and what you can do to succeed.”
King’s favorite memory of her last season as a Lion was the Senior Night game against St. Mary’s. Not only did LMU win 2-0, but King scored her third goal of the season.
“I had a blast on Senior Night, because we got the win and the two goals we got came from the seniors themselves … it was really special to be recognized and then as well to score a goal,” said King.
Even though King and Marchal put up fantastic individual performances, the team struggled to find a groove against a tough West Coast Conference this season. They posted an overall record of 4-12-3, but the numbers do not show the whole story; several of the team’s losses were close, hard-fought games that could have gone either way, including a double-overtime loss to Pepperdine and a tight match at USD.
“I would say confidence [was our biggest struggle],” said Marchal. “I feel it held us back, not being confident in ourselves.”
While the seniors and head coach Michelle Myers will not return, King is optimistic that the team will be able to reset and have more success next season.
“[We’re] just kind of adjusting to the ways things are changing on the team … we’re getting a new coaching staff, and there’ll be new freshmen coming in, so I think just learning to adjust and hopefully finding a groove with the new group [will help the team improve],” said King.