NW Soccer

Northwest junior midfielder Manuela Gonzalez (9) and Central Missouri junior midfielder Madi Sanders (25) compete at the Bearcat Soccer Pitch on Sept. 20, 2019.

The newly rolled out AstroTurf at Bearcat Pitch is a sight Northwest soccer fans won’t have the luxury of gazing at this fall.

On Aug. 14, the MIAA issued a statement that effectively suspended all fall sports until Jan. 1, 2021. Despite not being able to use the new addition, coach Marc Gordon said he’s excited to train on it.

“It’s another transformational piece for this program,” Gordon said. “We want to be able to get on it and showcase the new pitch, the team and its growth. We’ll use it a ton, but there won’t be a ton of matches this fall.”

Among the campus-wide mitigation push, Northwest’s fall sports fell prey to the efforts to lessen the impact of COVID-19. Gordon said he expected the cancellation but was still disappointed to hear the news that his Bearcats would be sidelined.

“Of course I was disappointed,” Gordon said. “With everybody else ending the fall season, the NCAA saying there would be no championships in the fall, it didn’t leave many options to play beyond the conference, but I hope this gives us a pathway into the spring.”

In 2019, the Bearcats finished the season with a 6-10-3 record after an overtime loss in the first round of the MIAA Tournament in their first trip to the postseason since 2012. Gordon gave his thoughts on what their season would’ve looked like based on their recent late-season push.

“You have to be careful when you try to compare seasons to the next,” Gordon said. “What I always like to take out of it is the growth and the change in culture, change in attitude. For culture and attitude, I was excited because I think that is something that would carry over for them.”

Even though there won’t be games to showcase their growth to the team’s MIAA counterparts, the Bearcats will be working to get better with Gordon and assistant coach Quaid Curtin.

Gordon said he places responsibility for the team’s growth on his veterans but accepts the burden of cultivating workouts that won’t burn the team out in their unexpected off season.

“Between Coach Curtin and myself, we’re going to have to be creative ourselves,” Gordon said. “The girls are going to have to be open-minded in trying different things to make sure that we can keep everybody motivated and moving forward.”

The coaching staff’s plan for the ’Cats is to make training and strength and conditioning as normal as possible, as if they were in their usual spring offseason. This would include internal competition due to lack of matches, like breaking the team apart to play mock tournaments.

Gordon also alluded to doing things that don’t necessarily involve a soccer ball in order to bring more fun into workouts.

“We’ll have some creativity of doing some things that are outside of soccer,” Gordon said. “We’re making parts of it fun so it doesn't become just a wear and tear of just training; creating races and relays and just a variety of things we can improve on as individual players.”

The Bearcats will still be running and training in preparation for another late season push, but it won’t align with their regularly scheduled programs.

“I’m just disappointed,” Gordon said. “There’s really just no other word.”

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