New Plans, Newer Goals

NDMU soccer team dribbles through the season with new head coach

By Sammy Kastner

This year, the NDMU soccer team welcomes a new coach—Brad Hartin—and a returning assistant coach—Allison Merkle—to their family. Coach Hartin is the new head coach for the NDMU soccer team while Merkle is helping lead the team once again.

Alla Stepanov, junior biology major, midfield and team captain this year, helps us get to know the new coach a little better. “There were some learning curves, I think, that we’re still working through, as you do with any new member, but the girls take to him well,” she explains. “He’s very optimistic, open to discussion and eager for improvement of the program—something we all have in common. He fits in well at Notre Dame.”

The second team captain, senior psychology and criminology major Cristina Barrios-Lopez gives us a different insight on the new coach. “I think this year we have more responsibilities [that are] being given out. Our new coach is really into making everyone become leaders on the team,” Barrios says. She believes that Coach Hartin, along with the captains, try to guide the team into success. However, each individual player has also stepped up to the plate by taking on different responsibilities that the team needs. “We’ve expanded the focus of captains having a prominent role into having everyone carry a role which has caused a positive impact,” Barrios-Lopez says.

Sophomore Lilly Gordon, pre-pharmacy student and chemistry major, explains that Coach Hartin is “a very encouraging and understanding individual.” “He knows where our priorities lie and is willing to work conflicts out,” she comments.
With a new coach bringing an entirely new atmosphere to the team, the NDMU soccer team has gone through some major changes within the past few months. However, they are working hard with a 3-10 record and 2-7 in their conference, making them good for eighth place in the CSAC.

The coach may have a prominent position on the team, but the captains on the team also have huge leadership roles. They have three captains leading the soccer team: Alla Stepanov, Cristina Barrios-Lopez and Brittany Smith. “The captains are a very key part of the team. They make sure the team keeps positive in all situations,” Gordon discloses. “They also keep us down to earth when all of our heads are in the clouds after a long day of classes.”

The Gators have also become closer on the field and off the field. Stepanov and Barrios-Lopez tell us about the team chemistry and what it’s like to be a member of the NDMU soccer team. “Our team chemistry is amazing. I think the fact that we have a low number encourages us to stick together and bond more. We are a pretty tight-knit team and I think we all meshed in pretty well from the very beginning,” Barrios-Lopez says. Stepanov also comments on the team chemistry, saying that “the best feature of the soccer team has always been the team chemistry.” “We are a family, and knowing your teammates’ strengths and weaknesses allows you to set each other up for the most successful plays possible,” she says.

Overall, the NDMU soccer team is laboring through the season. The next game the Gators will play will be at Rosemont, PA on October 27, 2016. Remember to support them and welcome the new coach to the Gator family!

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