Crawford has very high expectations for GSW women’s soccer program

Published 2:08 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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In just a couple of months, the Georgia Southwestern State University women’s soccer team will embark on the 2024 season and newly-hired head coach Jacob Crawford is expecting big things for the program not only for this year, but in the future as well.

“I think it’s a mixture of some short-term stuff and then what it looks like in three years,” Crawford said. “Obviously right now, in the meantime, we’re looking to create a much more competitive roster for the Peach Belt. The previous coach has done a good job of making this program relevant.” Crawford went on to say that one of his goals this year is to push for a higher seeding in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament.

The Lady Hurricanes finished eighth last year in the PBC, and Crawford is hoping to move the club into the four through six area, which in his mind, is certainly attainable. However, Crawford realizes that the conference is so competitive that results here and there can drop a team two or three places. Crawford went on to say that another goal that he has for the Lady Hurricanes this year is for them to host a conference tournament game, which has never happened before. In order to do that, the Lady Hurricanes would have to finish in the top four.

As far as the future is concerned, Crawford believes that 2025 should be a very fruitful year. The Lady Hurricanes will only lose three seniors from this year’s squad. According to Crawford, this gives the returning players another year to be able to understand how he wants his team to play and to understand the game model that he will be teaching them.

“We’ll see how well they catch on to that this fall,” Crawford said. “That’s kind of going to be the determining factor for our success or not this fall, because only 11 players of the 23 would have been here this spring to have kind of learned some of it already, which is nice because the majority of those 11 could be starters.” Crawford added, however, that a lot of the incoming players are also going to push for those positions as well.

As far as proven returning players are concerned, Crawford expects big things from sophomore goalkeeper Alana Beddow and R-sophomore center back Maci Dunlap. “I think both of them should be in a category for making an all-conference team. They’re that good,” Crawford said. “It just depends on the kind of level of respect their team can get this year through what we do on the field.” Crawford also expects big things from center back Tessa Bossman and forward Ella Moody, as well as sophomore forward Ellie Carrington. “She (Carrington) is a physical beast for us,” Crawford said. “She’ll play in the midfield for us and she can run all day. She makes really good tackles and her level of work sets a good tone for our midfield.”

As far as incoming players are concerned, Crawford said that there is a variety of talented players that will make an impact. “They’re all very talented players, but a variety of kinds of stories,” Crawford said. “We’ve got a couple of D2 transfers. We’ve got a couple of junior college transfers and then we’ve got a few freshmen here and there.” One of those junior college transfers happens to be the U20 Panamanian National Team goalkeeper who played her junior college ball at Daytona State. Crawford also has a member of the US Virgin Islands National Team coming into his program, along with a freshman midfielder from Tampa, FL. In addition to the aforementioned incoming players, Crawford has a junior college player from France coming in who will play right back. According to Crawford, these incoming players will provide stiff competition for starting positions.

“I think that’s kind of the biggest thing when I was constructing the roster is level out the positions,” Crawford said. “We essentially need two at every position plus a couple more, plus a goalkeeper and maybe another special player.” Crawford has constructed the roster in such a way that players are going to know not only whom they are competing with at a certain spot, but what is expected of them at that position. “They’re not going to go into a game not knowing where they’re going to play or when they’re going to play it,” Crawford said. “We want to know who the starters are and what the next person needs to do to become a starter, so increasing that level of competition is a big deal too.”

He went on to say that he is trying to construct the roster in such a way that there are no walk-ons. “We want to get to where everybody is on scholarship for a reason. Not just, you know, just to give out money,” Crawford said. “We want the talent of players to be where when we substitute, it doesn’t change. The level is constant.”

Crawford went on to say that there are some incoming injuries that have to be dealt with, but overall, he is excited about what the 2024 season could bring, as well as what is in store for the next couple of years.

The Lady Hurricanes open the season on the road against Florida Southern at Columbus State University on Thursday, September 5. Then they will have their home opener against Rollins College on Thursday, September 12, at 7 p.m.