As I have told most of you, my undergraduate days in Commerce, America were 2005-2007. During that time, I got to see only a couple of really good programs, and one was Women’s Soccer. Neil Piper built a winning program and a dynasty that competed every year for conference and regional championships. The really big one always seemed to be just out of reach, but when it came time for the season to start, they were and always have been a big draw for the campus community.
The past few seasons, the program has not been up to the standards that the fanbase have expected. The last time the soccer program has been to the National Tournament was in 2016 when they came so close to winning the South Central Regional by dropping an absolute heartbreaker of a game to Colorado-Mines. 2017 was a great season but one that saw the committee (Both Lone Star and NCAA) hose that team out of a national tournament berth. Since then, the seasons have been winning seasons, but the have been 9-7, 10-8, 11-7, as opposed to the 12-5, 15-3, 16-4 type seasons we are used to.
As I write this, our start in NCAA Division I has not been great. There was the opening season draw to Sam Houston that showed a lot of promise, but since then, there have been two absolutely embarrassing losses, both at home, a 4-0 shutout loss to Oral Roberts on Thursday, and then a 3-0 loss to Louisiana-Monroe. 3 games in (including the Sam Houston scrimmage) and our vaunted Women’s Soccer program has not scored a single goal. Not one, and it gets harder as the Lion Women take on UT-San Antonio on Thursday night in Commerce and then travel to take on PAC-12 team Colorado. This is hard and getting harder.
Now, I want to say this and encourage these Ladies and the coaching staff. The fact that you are in Commerce shows you are elite. Our program has been marked by success on and off the field. Degrees, Academic Distinctions, and championships, a lot of championships. This might be a rough season, but take heart and keep playing hard. Remember what you got here. Take a look at the trophy case in the Fieldhouse and see when you put on that Lion Jersey what you represent. It will help, trust me.
As far as the Coaching staff goes, we need to give HC Ashley Gordon and her staff all the support we can. Regardless of how the season goes, keep showing up. Show up to every single home game. This community support the Lion student athletes, and this team needs the school and the community to show up and support them. Gordon is an experienced coach and has coached at the Division I level twice with two major programs. I am confident with her at the helm, even if there are growing pains.
Since the late 1990’s, Texas A&M-Commerce has supported and invested a lot of time, money, and energy into turning the Soccer program into a perennial contender from an upstart that played on a sandlot its first couple of seasons. There have been a lot of great players and teams, and the nets are starving for goals scored by Lions. Time to gather the student body, the community, and the alums and get these squad and program back on the right track.
That starts with putting balls in the back of the net.