By KATELYN MASARELLI
Despite starting off the season slow, the women’s soccer team was able to complete the second half of the season with a record 5-1-2.The Spartans’ season made a victorious ending to another regular season on Oct. 22 when they defeated the Florida Tech Panthers 3-2.
UT came out strong against Florida Tech on senior night, when sophomore midfielder Nastasia Asgedom scored the first goal in the 28’ minute within the first half. Florida Tech did not make it an easy win, but the team was prepared to come out triumphant in their last regular season game. With the unfamiliar cool breeze in the air, the Spartans wanted senior night to be memorable for lone senior midfielder, Lauren Cicero.
Cicero started her freshman year with the team and has spent the past four years growing as a player. In first two years with the team she received Sunshine State Conference (SSC) recognition by being honored with SSC Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Now in her final season as a Spartan, Cicero is grateful for the opportunity to be a college athlete.
“Senior night is always bittersweet, it’s always a fun night and get people excited to play but at the same time, it is my last promised game as collegiate soccer player,” Cicero said. “I love playing at home and am sad that it will most likely be my last time.”
Cicero started playing soccer when she was just four years old and has stuck with it this long because of her passion for it. Cicero said, she, like most college soccer players, can’t imagine life without it because it has been a huge part of both her collegiate life and the years she spent playing the sport before college.
As someone who has seen the many changes the women’s team has faced during her time as a Spartan, Cicero was glad to have stuck it out with the team as long as she did. In 2015, Erin Switalski made her program debut and Cicero has noticed a huge change in the program since she did. Cicero said Switalski and assistant coach Brittan Spence are the reason she fell back in love with the sport.
Many of the newer players have watched her play this season and noticed the drive her and other veteran players have for the game. Freshman defensive midfielder Savannah Ulrich said she has appreciated Cicero’s effort to get to know her on the field and in the classroom. Cicero has acted as an uplifting force that keeps Ulrich going and learning to balance the workload of college classes and her role on the team.
“With Cicero being the only senior this year it really hits home that this is truly her last year,” Ulrich said. “Anyone can see how much love she has for the team and soccer through her efforts in practice and on the field.”
In terms of the team, Cicero sees the entire team as one big support system for herself. Switalski served as someone who believed in her as a player and built her the confident player she is today getting ready to walk off the soccer field for good.
“This whole season it kind of hit me how thankful I am to have been able to play soccer in college,” Cicero said. “I’ll never get another chance in my life to play competitively, so I think this year I’ll walk away with a better appreciation for the game.”
Katelyn Masarelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org