The Ragin’ Cajuns soccer team is headed to the Sun Belt Conference Championships after concluding their regular season on Oct. 25. Ending their season with an 8-4-1 record, despite the circumstances, the Cajuns had an excellent season. For comparison, they finished the last season with a 9-8-3 record and made it all the way to the semifinals.
The Oct. 25 game against Arkansas State was their first loss since their 0-1 loss against Arkansas State on Sept. 24. Prior to that, the team went on a series of 1-0, 2-0 and even 3-0 wins. The only tie of the season was the game against Little Rock on Oct. 22 in which neither team scored.
This season started off quite differently than previous seasons. The squad was unable to start practice until August and once they did, practices had strict guidelines.
Back in August, players Julianne DeBlieux, Skyla Sykes and Ashley Newland talked about their hopes for this season.
Newland said that with a season filled with so much uncertainty, she was ready to play and see how it would turn out.
“Seeing the way everything plays out with the whole uncertainty of the season and a lot of schools canceling their seasons,” Newland said.
Sykes added, “I’m most looking forward to every game, I mean it’s my last season and probably the last time I’ll be able to play on a team.”
And DeBlieux reiterated that same attitude. “Every day has been like, ‘Well this could potentially be my last day so make the best of it,’” she said.
Throughout the season Head Coach Lance Key expressed how the team relied heavily on depth, senior captain leadership and at some points multiple freshmen playing at once.
“You look at any sport in the college sport environment, if you’re 70% freshmen on the field you’re gonna have some challenges, but those challenges are ones that we’re welcoming,” Key said. “The freshmen, they’re playing because they’re good players and that’s why we brought them in here. We believe in them, we trust in them, and it just so happened that some of the youth in our team have really started to pick things up here.”
Two players led in most goals throughout the season. Junior forward Lizzie Mayfield had five, while senior midfielder Una Einarsdottir had four. Along with DeBlieux, Einarsdottir was one of the senior team captains that helped lead the team.
Einarsdottir claimed SBC Soccer Player of the Week honors during the week of Oct. 21 and reflected on her senior campaign.
“Coming to Louisiana was the best decision I could have made. Here, I found my home away from home. I could not be more thankful for my time here and for all the people that I got to know over the years,” Einarsdottir said.
Louisiana will face Coastal Carolina on Nov. 4 in the quarterfinals of the SBC Championships. If they win they’ll make it to the semifinals just like last season before striving for champion status.
After the championship tournament, the Cajuns will have to search for new leadership next season with several graduating seniors leaving Louisiana.