Northwest soccer’s season came to what seems like a fitting end in the form of a 1-0 defeat in double overtime against Lindenwood Oct. 28.
After 109 minutes of scoreless soccer, Lindenwood forward Emily Jowers scored with nine seconds left in the match to ice the game for the Lions and bring a crushing end to the Bearcats’ lost season.
For Northwest (2-15, 1-10 MIAA), the season-ending dagger was a suitable finish to a season punctuated by missed opportunities and heartbreaking losses. The Bearcats failed to cash in on a number of favorable shot opportunities in regulation, something that served as a common theme for the team throughout the season.
“We’ve got to finish our chances,” coach Marc Gordon said. “We should have never been in overtime. We had way better chances in regulation against Lindenwood, and we just did not execute.”
Gordon’s first season as head coach is now in the rearview. The campaign brought with it a number of highs and a series of lows.
The Bearcats won their first match under Gordon before limping through an 11-game losing streak. The team weathered injuries, hardships and agonizing losses, and through it all, the Bearcats emerged a better version of themselves.
Gordon’s unrelenting optimism served as a guiding light for the young roster, leading Northwest through the uncertainties of a rebuild.
“I am very excited about where this program can go,” Gordon said. “Am I disappointed? Absolutely; that I couldn’t bring a different environment in the 10 months that I’ve been here. I think I’ve changed some things in terms of mindsets and culture things, but the realization of how hard we have to work: we still haven’t reached that.”
Gordon does not intend on settling for complacency. He inherited a team with just three winning seasons in the last 20 years, a team with a long-standing tradition of treading in mediocrity. For Gordon, the changing of culture is paramount for refining that narrative.
“We are where we are,” Gordon said. “It’s been 20 years of this, and it’s time to break it. It’s time to put in the work in the offseason and to find the right players to get it done with the mix of players that are here and want to do it.”
Gordon’s players have wholeheartedly bought into his ideologies. While the end-of-season standings do not reflect an improved team from years past, players believe that the Bearcats are on the verge of a breakthrough.
“I definitely think this is just the beginning,” keeper Alexis Serna Castillo said. “I think for the next seasons it’ll be uphill from here. It was rough for all of us. We didn't know what we needed to do, but the coach (Gordon) is really making a great effort to keep building us up.”
As the calendar turns to November and the offseason is ushered in, Gordon’s work has only just begun. With the addition of offseason recruiting, Gordon plans to implement as many training sessions for his current roster as the NCAA will allow.
“(We’re looking for) goal scorers,” Gordon said. “We need finishers. I’m always looking for players to come in and make an immediate impact. We’re looking for girls that are going be committed to our process and help change our culture.”
On the heels of his first season, Gordon is not reflecting but instead looking toward the future. He arrived at Northwest 10 months ago with hopes of turning around a soccer program that has turned in forgettable seasons for most of the last 20 years, and as the offseason begins, Gordon’s mission strides onward.
“The culture isn’t necessarily what I brought; it’s embracing what’s here at the University and the athletic department,” Gordon said. “When we win, we all win. The desire to want to be successful is there in the players. I’m very excited about what the offseason will look like. As long as I’m within the rules of the NCAA, we’re going to be working.”