Randall Williams | Sports Editor
The end of summer can get very exciting for sports. The WNBA season comes to a close, the MLB is getting set for the playoffs and both the NCAA and NFL begin football at the beginning of September.
On Hampton University’s campus, football is back, and volleyball returns, but autumn’s sleeper sport is women’s soccer.
It’s been a tough three years since the Lady Pirates started competing in Division I soccer. The team has won five matches and lost 27.
Midfielder Khasya Cunningham, who has been a captain for the Lady Pirates since she transferred to HU in her sophomore year, discussed her experience as a team member.
“With each year, the intensity rises, especially with freshmen coming in and wanting to compete,” Cunningham said. “Our roster has improved tremendously.”
It’s clear that the energy has changed.
At the start of the 2017 season, Hampton was outscored 17-7. This year, the Lady Pirates have scored five goals and given up only five.
Unfortunately, this improvement hasn’t translated into wins.
“In my years, we’ve never come out strong with any particular win,” Cunningham said. “It’s always been us building up momentum as the season carries on.”
Now they need to move past miscues.
“I think one of the biggest things we need to focus on is playing for each other,” Cunningham said. “We can’t give lousy effort and give up because the ball was taken or we’ve made a mistake. We’re a team. It’s important to pick each other up.”
Midfielder Isobel “Izzy” Finnegan agreed.
“There are going to be times when one of our teammates gets knocked down or injured,” Finnegan said. “We need to have that competitive edge to get back at our opponent by making big plays.”
There are other obstacles the Lady Pirates face. While some colleges have their own stadium for soccer, Hampton does not.
The team does not even get the privilege of sharing the football stadium, as their matches occur on the practice field.
“With us playing in a field that’s basically hidden, we don’t get as much support as other sports do,” Finnegan said.
Cunningham added: “We’d love to have SLP [Student Leadership Program] out at our games. They bring energy at the football games, and having that at our matches would feel great.”
The Lady Pirates have 10 matches remaining.
With the team competing at a higher level than ever before, they also have higher expectations.
“The more we play for each other, the better off we’ll be,” Finnegan said. “And the more opportunities we create, the more we’ll be able to score.”
The Lady Pirates have lost twice by a 2-1 margin. So they are almost there.
“We’re going to keep getting better this season,” Cunningham said. “So, please, come out and support your Lady Pirates.”