Story & Photo by Caleb Betterton
Women’s soccer at Rose State had a tough but strong start to the season, a start that propelled them into the top of the national rankings. They are currently ranked seventh in the nation and have a record of 9-1-1.
The Lady Raiders achieved this success under the leadership of Head Coach Tommy Riley and Assistant Coach Steven Cummins.
“Expectations were high,” Riley said.
They had to be, because they started out the season facing two opponents that were ranked in the Top 10.
They beat Iowa Western, the third-ranked team in the nation at that time, 2-0. Then they lost to the fifth-ranked team in the nation at that time, Navarro, 1-0.
Rose State women’s soccer team has an abundance of talent this year, giving them plenty of options and opportunities to try different formations. Also, this allows Riley the ability to keep the starting positions up for grabs every week.
Riley said, “this increases the intensity in practice because it causes the athletes to fight for their place.”
The talent has transferred over to the field, both offensively and defensively.
“We have some really good defenders,” Riley said.
The three starting defenders for Rose State, Paige Graham, Mackenzie Greer and Avery Holland, have allowed only two goals in the past 11 games, while their offense has scored 38 points.
They are very confident they will keep up that trend for the rest of the season, especially on the defensive side.
“I don’t see us letting in anymore goals,” Holland said.
Even with the success they have had so far, they believe there is still room for growth. Communicating together and always being on the same page is something Graham thinks they could get better at, which will only help them down the road.
In spite of the constant competition for starting positions and playing time, this team is a strong team.
“We are like a little family here,” Greer said.
One of Riley’s favorite aspects about this team is their attitude; he said it’s “nice to come in and do a job that you love every day and be around kids that make it easier.”
Riley’s coaching style and philosophy is a little different than the average coach.
“Tough love,” Greer said. “He just pushes us to be the best players we can be.”
Riley tries to present problems so players can learn how to figure things out for themselves.
“Because it’s like anything in life, if you can’t solve the problem then you have issues,” he said.
Riley said it comes down to being able to “manage people; everyone is different and you have to coach different people in different ways.”
Although the expectations were high to start the season, they were clear.
“Definitely the national tournament,” Riley said.
Greer agreed, “I want to make it to nationals.”
Those expectations have not changed either. Now with the momentum of having beat a highly-ranked opponent and being ranked in the Top 10, they are on track to fulfill that goal of reaching nationals and bringing the trophy home to Rose State.
Find game times and locations at rscraiders.com/sports/womens-soccer/schedule.
Student admission is free, while non-student admission is $5.
Editor’s Note: Rankings were current as of Oct. 3 press date.
Story & Photo by Madi Zick
As the school year begins at Rose State, the athletic programs kick off as well. Tommy Riley is the new head coach of the Rose State women’s soccer program, as former coach Damon Solomon accepted an assistant coaching job at a college in California. Solomon led the team to the District Championship last season and with this year, Riley takes the reigns and plans for the coming year.
Coach Riley was born and raised in Liverpool, England, but moved to Oklahoma in 1995. Riley played soccer at Oklahoma City University all four years of college and then transitioned to coaching. He started coaching the Olympic Development Program in 1997. He still coaches private training sessions at ODP aside from his current responsibilities. After college, he began his career as the co-ed soccer coach at Heritage Hall High School in Oklahoma City. He later served as an elementary school P.E. teacher for 13 years; afterward, he left to be the head women’s coach at St.Gregory’s University for five years.
Riley left coaching behind for a while as he worked for the OKC Energy as the Director of Player Development, but he is excited to get back into the college scene of coaching.
“It’s a good challenge; I like challenges,” Riley said. “I want to build something that people will see as a powerhouse in a few years.”
Assistant Coach Sadè Boswell is looking forward to working with Riley and creating a family environment that will help the team go far this season.
“From first impressions, he has knowledge of the game,” Boswell said. “He seems easy to get along with, and his personality meshes with mine.”
Boswell is thrilled to see the team work hard during preseason and for the talent that the freshman class has brought in.
Both coaches hope to go as far as possible and reach the national tournament. Riley and Boswell have the same ambitions for the future season. They are looking forward to Nationals and that sunny week in Florida.
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