Kicking in the newbies

Soccer captains’ bond helps brace the challenge of a freshman-dominated roster


Photo by Anna Mateffy

Despite one being a senior and one being a junior, there’s not lack of a bond between the captains of the women’s soccer team.  

Teighlor Tvedt and Ashley O’Connell have not only played on the soccer field with each other the past three years at UW-Eau Claire, but they also share the same classrooms.

Purely by coincidence they have the same major, communication sciences and disorders.  Because Tvedt is a senior, she is further along in the program than O’Connell, but Tvedt said the two have had a few classes together.

“I’m always bugging her about what to do for this, or what classes to take,” said O’Connell. “There’s definitely an added bond there having the same major.”

As captains of the soccer team, the two take on the task of role models and vocal leaders of the team.  Their job this fall has been especially important as this season features 13 new freshmen players. Even with an abundance of new faces, Tvedt said it has brought the team even closer.

“It’s kind of like ‘hey, welcome to the team, you’re half of us,’” said Tvedt. “So we haven’t really had the choice but to get to know each other, and it’s made us really close.”

Tvedt is in her senior season at Eau Claire, so she is no stranger to welcoming new players to the team. She remembers one instance specifically from her sophomore year.

“We do this thing in preseason where we have mentors and mentees come over to our houses, and Connie was our mentee when she was a little freshman,” Tvedt said. “So it’s funny that that’s how it started and now were both captains.”

It’s rare when a team has only one senior on the roster, but that’s the case for Tvedt, who will be graduating next December. While its strange territory, she said it has helped the team come together.

Learning everyone’s different styles and abilities has been the biggest challenge, but we’ve certainly adapted as the season’s gone on.

— Sean Yengo

“I feel like I have more of a connection with the younger players, because there’s no tendency to hang out with your own grade,” Tvedt said. “Senior day is going to be weird because it’s just like … my day.”

While the team has come together off the field, they still need to learn how to play together on it. Head coach Sean Yengo is also dealing with the obstacle of having a lot of young talent.

“It’s been a challenge for everybody,” Yengo said. “Learning everyone’s different styles and abilities has been the biggest challenge, but we’ve certainly adapted as the season’s gone on.

Yengo’s job is to make sure they play well on the field, but the players know he cares about them as more than soccer players.

“Before our games on the weekends, we always go to his house for pancake breakfast,” O’Connell said. “And he always does a lot to make sure were on track with our academics, especially when you’re a freshman.”

Yengo said he has been really pleased with the amount of effort Tvedt and O’Connell have put into being captains this year and in leading the young team.

“It’s always a work in progress with new captains, but they’ve really grown into their positions,” Yengo said.

At the beginning of each season the team votes on which players will be captains. As O’Connell has one more year left, she hopes to keep the role with a year under her belt.

“I mean that’s the plan,” O’Connell said, laughing. “We’ll see how that goes.”

With all the women’s soccer team has overcome this season, Yengo said he would be happy if this was the case.

“There’s certain intangibles to every good team and one is having good leaders,” Yengo said. “Ones that can lead with their heart and their heads.”