By Andrew Preston
For the second time in four seasons, Mark Foster, head women’s soccer coach, is Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) Coach of the Year.
“Obviously I take a lot of pride in winning the award, but it’s not about me,” said the coach from Newcastle, Ireland. “What I hate is Calvin and Kaitlyn (our assistant coaches) don’t get the credit. I stand up there and get handed the trophy, but I really wouldn’t win any award if it wasn’t for them.”
“We don’t win awards if the girls don’t perform and don’t buy into our ideas, it’s about the girls,” said Foster, “The reason the spotlight was on me (at the end of the year) was because the girls were amazing (all season).”
“The girls did it themselves. They wanted to make history this year and they did. They bought into what coach was saying and it really showed on the pitch,” added Calvin Da Cunha, assistant coach.
Foster, an ‘08 Trevecca graduate, played four seasons for the men’s soccer team, finishing as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 41 career goals.
Although the Lady Trojans hopes of winning the G-MAC tournament were cut short, Foster said his team has a good shot at winning next season.
“You’re either moving forward or you’re moving backwards. The difficulty when you’ve had an amazing year is to get your players to realize they need to be better again, that they need to work hard again,” said Foster, “Although we won the league, we didn’t achieve our dream of winning the tournament, which gets the bid to go to the national tournament.”
Foster thinks next season his team can improve on this year’s success, but they have to start working hard now.
“We have to protect against complacency, the minute you get complacent, people overtake you. That’s when you get surprising results: you lost, but you were the better team,” said Foster.
In 2014, the Lady Trojans helped Foster win his first G-MAC Coach of the Year award.
“That team had a big senior class and we had brought in 14 Freshman. It was the perfect combination of youth and experience. The perfect storm,” said Foster.
Foster stressed that his 2016 team differed in their approach and style than in 2014.
“This year was a really small senior class, we were reliant more on our younger players stepping up and doing more,” said Foster.
Foster along with five Lady Trojans were recognized with end-of-the-year awards.
Juniors, Hannah Barney and Sophie Callis earned a spot on the first team all-conference team. Second team all-conference awards went to juniors, Diana Corzine, Chelsey Russom and Liz Denton.
“It’s a tremendous honor for me (to be first team all-conference), but all the thanks goes to my teammates and coaches. We had a really strong defensive unit and any one of us could have made the first team. I consider this a team award for sure,” said junior, Sophie Callis.
The Lady Trojans success in 2016 has allowed coach Foster to recruit at a higher level, although the incoming Freshman class has yet to be finalized.
“We’re a good school. We’re in a great location (Nashville). We had a good season. Girls want to play for a winning team. We still are looking for our right fit in players. We recruit the whole person, not just the soccer player,” said Foster.
The 2017-18 Lady Trojans will feature 10 seniors, along with a team aiming to win the G-MAC post-season title.
“We had one goal when we came here, and that was to win the G-MAC conference title. We had a really good chance this year, but came up short. Our determination will drive us next season, we’ll be ready,” said Callis.
While Foster is pleased with the award, want he wants most of all is for his girls to keep winning.
“The girls are the ones who won the league. They are the league champions,” said Foster, “We have to remember what made us successful this year, and build off that.”