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My summer optimism lasts the fall

I wrote these words in this space in the Torch’s summer issue before the fall sports seasons began:

“In truth, we could see great things out of all three teams this fall. There is no doubt the women’s soccer team is an ever-improving program and the men always seem to be on the cusp of superior success.

Plus, we don’t have a reason at all to be pessimistic about a volleyball team that was ranked in the top 25 in the country last season.”

The column was about taking opportunities to be optimistic about possible successes of our sports teams. I was really optimistic about how the fall seasons would turn out for all three of the major sports teams playing in the fall.

I don’t consider myself a self-promoter or a bragger (in fact, I feel like I’ve written the word ‘I’ in this column far too many times already). But my friends do, so here’s to them.

I was right about these teams this season.

Let’s start with women’s soccer. The team finished their season on Thursday night with a 1-0 loss to Cincinnati in the first-round of the Big East Tournament. The loss was a disappointment, but the seasons itself was far from it.

Firstly, the team may still be playing if not for an untimely injury to midfielder C.J. Ludemann, who in her first year with the Storm emerged as one of the most important players on the team.
Plus the emergence of freshman goalkeeper Kristin Russell is something that will provide optimism for Torch sports writers to come. In a season that the majority of Storm fans expected the net minding to be a labor handled with the confidence of a senior, the freshman Russell came out of nowhere to post a school record 10 shutouts. And she balanced her eight goals against with 78 saves and .44 goals against average.

And though the women’s volleyball team hasn’t been ranked in the top 25 in 2008, it may be on its way.

Eleven games into the season many were questioning the ability of this team. They were sitting below .500, with a 5-6 record and were reeling a three-game losing streak.

But they’ve only lost one game since and have converted that losing streak into a seven-game Big East winning streak. The same conference dominance that was so characteristic of last year’s team is back again in 2008 and that can only mean great things for the upcoming Big East Tournament.

Valeria Kovaleva has replaced Hui Ping Huang well as the Storm’s top attacker proved by her first-ever Big East Player of the Week award that she won on Monday.

And, of course, there’s the men’s soccer team. This team has far exceeded even the highest of expectations. They ripped through the Big East in a way that makes a Big East Championship seem obvious and to say that, at this point of the season, the Johnnies are the clear-cut favorites for the NCAA title is far from an exaggeration.

So, in so many way, I’m still optimistic.

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