written by: Alyssa Willetts
The Oklahoma Wesleyan Lady Eagles wrapped up their historic soccer season with a trip to the NAIA National Tournament. They earned their spot in the playoffs after winning both the KCAC Regular Season and Conference Tournament Championships.
The Opening Round of the soccer tournament took place in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where the winner would advance to the Round of 16 in Orange Beach, Alabama. Following a 3-0 win over Lindsey Wilson, the Lady Eagle’s returned to their locker room singing “Sweet Home Alabama” in celebration of their first appearance and upcoming trip to the national tournament.
The Lady Eagle’s departed the nest on Thanksgiving Day and arrived in the beautiful, sunny state of Alabama late that evening. The next morning, the girls went straight to work as the OKWU women’s team began preparation for their game on Monday against 4th ranked William Carey. Each day they had a morning devotional on the beach and practiced at a nearby complex.
On the eve of Game Day the ladies put on their best dresses and met the top 16 teams in the country for a banquet to celebrate their accomplishments. Lady Eagles Coach Vladan Glavonic said, “It was an amazing experience to be at the same site with [the] best 16 teams. [The] Organization was very professional and it was a lot to soak [up] for the first time being there.”
Countless water bottles and team jogs later, it was finally Game Day for the Lady Eagles. The 13th ranked Eagles faced the 4th ranked Lady Crusaders and lost in a heartbreaking 4-0 finish. Although it was a tough loss, Lady Eagle’s center back, Danielle Uptain, had this to say, “Having the opportunity as a Junior to go to Nationals with all these girls reminded me how far we’ve come since the beginning of the season.” After the game, Coach Vladan Glavonic gave his girls a heartwarming speech:
“I told them that I was very proud of the entire season and that every single member should be proud of themselves. I also added that I was very happy for [the] seniors who stuck it out for 4 years with the program. We had ups and downs but they are the true winners and I am very happy that they managed to break every single school record in their last season.”
The outcome was not what the Lady Eagles hoped for, but they finished their record-breaking season with an overall record of 20 wins, 2 losses, and 1 tie, setting the best record in school history. “This season was definitely one to remember!” said Junior Captain Danielle Uptain. She continued, “I think the major difference from past seasons was finding our missing pieces and putting players in positions that they excelled in.”
Soccer season has come to a close and postseason rankings are out. The Lady Eagles grace the top 25 with their presence once again coming in at #13. Coach Glavonic showed satisfaction with these results, saying, “It’s put us in a good position for the start of the next year and gives us a good starting point for our goals.” He also says this ranking will put a huge target on their backs as other teams will play much harder to beat them in the next season.
Going into offseason training, the Lady Eagles’ team goal is obvious: make it back to the national tournament. Danielle Uptain says this ranking gives them confidence: “[This] sets the tone for next season on what it takes physically and mentally to reach the top and break countless records.” Coach Glavonic wants his team to be a regular in Alabama moving forward. He said, “I believe our team experience from this tournament will help us in future successes.”
On behalf of The Eagle, congratulations to the women’s soccer team on an outstanding season and all of the amazing accomplishments. The bar has been set high.