Bears’ thoughts on the Final Four

| Sports Reporter
Senior co-captain Libby Held moves the ball up the field in the sectional semifinal game against Webster University on Nov. 14.  Held and the women’s soccer team head to the Final Four for the second time in school history this weekend. Wash. U. faces Lynchburg College in the national semifinals in San Antonio. (Matt Mitgang | Student Life)

Senior co-captain Libby Held moves the ball up the field in the sectional semifinal game against Webster University on Nov. 14. Held and the women’s soccer team head to the Final Four for the second time in school history this weekend. Wash. U. faces Lynchburg College in the national semifinals in San Antonio. (Matt Mitgang | Student Life)

As the Washington University women’s soccer team travels south to San Antonio, the excitement and anticipation within the team is growing. It is the Lady Bears’ second appearance in the Final Four, and first since 1997. Wash. U. faces Lynchburg College in the national semifinal at 1:30 p.m. on Friday. The team enters the tournament with a 17-3-2 record, and boasts the leading scorer in the University Athletic Association, sophomore Emma Brown. Freshman goalkeeper Clara Jaques is in the top three goalkeepers of the UAA with a .870 save percentage. As student-athletes, the players must prepare not only for an intense two days of soccer but also for an imminent wave of finals. Below are the thoughts of players as they enter the final week of their remarkable soccer season.

Freshman goalkeeper Clara Jaques:
“We’re all really pumped for San Antonio and to experience what it means to be in the Final Four. Our goal since August has been to win a national championship, so to be within reach of that goal is really exciting.”

Sophomore midfielder Emma Brown:
“I’m very excited about the Final Four. No matter what the outcome is, it’ll be a great experience to have made it this far in a national tournament. I think the team is pretty excited and a little nervous. I honestly think we’re more nervous about making up our schoolwork right before finals than we are about the game, because we know that if we go to Texas and have fun out on the field and play hard for each other, we’ll do well no matter what.”

Senior co-captain midfielder Becca Heymann:
“I’m really excited. I haven’t been able to think about much else. At least for the senior class, it’s really exciting that we’ve made the Final Four. But our hearts are set on making the final game and winning the championship.”

“We’ve known for two weeks that we’re going to San Antonio this week. All season we were balancing our academics and [athletics]. It’s particularly hard to go during finals week. Some girls are taking exams on the road. It’s just sort of a part of being a student athlete.”

“I wish that in past seasons we had made it this far, but being here now is great—I’m hoping we will be in the finals. I’m just excited that we’re playing in December and I get to draw it out as long as possible.”

Head coach Jim Conlon:
“We’re just trying to keep it loose. We know what our abilities are on the field.”

“We’re excited that the University has decided to sponsor the fan bus. We’ve had some good followings in home and Rockford. I’m just glad that students have the opportunity to utilize that resource…hopefully we can get the word out fast enough.”

“We still got some things to accomplish. Our girls should be proud of what we accomplished but invigorated by what we can do.”

Senior co-captain midfielder Carter Schwarberg:
“[We’re] excited. It’s a huge deal for us. I mean, we’ve been practicing really hard…especially looking at this as the last time I’m going to be on a team like this…I want to do it [win the national championship]. This is my last chance for going all the way.”

“We will be [ready]. Even though we had a break, we worked. We had workouts every day. Everyone knows what’s at stake.”

“There are some nerves, but they’re not taking over. We know these games are going to be tough. [Lynchburg is] apparently pretty scrappy. It’s nerve-wracking. We know they’re the best teams we’ve ever played, [but] at the same time we’ve had tremendous success when we play our game and our style of soccer. [There aren’t] many nerves yet, but it will probably be different when we’re warming up for the game.”

“Even though this is really an exciting time for us, and going to the Final Four is great. We’re going in it to win. It’s definitely on the line. We will do anything we can to win. We really believe we can. We don’t feel like this is lucky or anything, we feel like we deserve this. [It’s] a really exciting position.”

Senior co-captain defensive back Libby Held:
“I think we’re feeling good, we’re confident. We’re in it to win the whole thing. We broke our overtime curse [against Calvin], and so I think we’re feeling good. We’re training really hard this week in order to prepare.”

“Everyone rested up over Thanksgiving break. We’re revitalized and ready to go. Right now it’s all excitement, [but] we’ll all be freaking out a little bit.”

“Honestly it’s a great ending to a career,  I couldn’t have asked for a better senior season, and hopefully we’ll continue to win and go all the way. I’m going to be extremely sad when it’s over. There is an extra sense of urgency in a way, [being a senior], but it shouldn’t affect how we play at all and and how we react to opponents.”

With additional reporting by Johann Qua Hiansen