The future looks bright for the Holmes Community College women's soccer program after the team finished the season with a 13-1-1 record and were MACJC/Region XXIII runners-up and North Division champions for the second consecutive year. The team also found themselves in the national soccer polls, both the NJCAA and the United Soccer Coaches.
The Lady Bulldogs broke into the United Soccer Coaches poll on Oct. 3 at No. 13. The Lady Bulldogs got as high as No. 11 on Oct. 31 before finishing No. 13 in the final poll on Nov. 21. The team was also recognized during the season by the NJCAA. The Lady Bulldogs received votes in the national poll on Sept. 12 before breaking into the polls on Sept. 26 at No. 19. The team got as high as No. 16 before falling to the Jones County Junior College Lady Bobcats in the state/region tournament.
"I couldn't be any more proud of this group," Holmes Associate Head Coach Wesley Noble said. "Their accomplishments this season have been outstanding. They rewrote the record books once again being back-to-back North Division champions, best record in school history, most all region players in Region XXIII and the list goes on and on. This is the first time in program history that we have been nationally ranked so it's a great reward to the girls to end the season at Number 13."
Noble said the women's program has set itself apart with culture being very important. "Both of these groups were superb and such a joy to coach," he said. "I think our success in both years comes back to the culture. We have a unique family atmosphere here at Holmes that really helps us come together both on and off the field. These ladies enjoy playing with each other and at the same time aren't scared to push one another.
"I would probably say the depth of the training that we were able to get into this year was the biggest difference. These sophomores were with me for two years and so they knew what was expected and they were able to get these freshmen on board right off the bat. We were able to dive in this past July and really get into what we wanted to do all year long. The sophomore class deserves so much credit for what they have done these past two years. Only losing one regular season game in two years is incredible."
Noble doesn't plan to change much for next season. "Obviously, getting back to the final for a third year in a row will be very tough; however, I do feel like we will have the team to do it," Noble said. "We won't change much from the way we do things, a few tweaks here and there but nothing major. If I had to pick out one thing, I would say the small details. Small things create the big things so we will focus on making sure we do the little things the right way from the beginning of the season to the end."
With a good nucleus of players returning from this year's team, Noble has been on the road looking for players to fill in the slots left by the sophomore class, and he feels he has some good ones coming in for next year.
"Recruiting has gone extremely well," Noble said. "We have 12 girls signed or committed for next season at the moment and only waiting on a few others to finalize our recruiting for the year.
"This class will hands down be the most talented group we have brought in from top to bottom," he said. "It is very exciting to think about this group joining our returning players. We are bringing back our entire freshmen group from last year and expecting a lot out of them. Our freshmen will have some major shoes to fill, especially on the attacking side of the game but I feel like they will be up for the challenge."
In the offseason, the Lady Bulldogs will continue to get better on their own before spring workouts begin, according to Noble. "Right now the girls are just relaxing and playing on their own here and there," he said. "Once spring season starts the focus becomes on the individual player improving. We have individual meetings to discuss where we think each player is and what their goals are for the spring season. We really focus on what they need to do to get to that next level, along with spending a lot of time in the weight room."
Holmes Head Coach Matt Convertino is extremely proud of everything accomplished this season by the Lady Bulldogs. "It was a great season for our team," Convertino said. "It was clearly the best in program-history. I'm so proud of our players for the hard work they put in as well as Wesley and TJay (Busin) for getting the team prepared for success week in and week out.
"That being said preparations for next season have already begun and we think 2018 can be an even better season. The culture within the team is excellent and we have signed some outstanding high school seniors."