Coming off a 9-7-2 2006 SWAC championship season, the Grambling State University women’s soccer team took the field earlier this month in hopes of defending its title this upcoming season.”We can win it all this year,” soccer coach Tamura Crawley said. “We have a stronger team this year, and none of my players have shown any complacency, because we are all on the same page. We want to repeat this year to show everyone that last year was not a fluke.”
Coach Crawley won the title last season in her first year as the Grambling State University head coach. Before coming to Grambling, she was an assistant coach at Texas Women’s University in Denton for two years. At Texas Women’s University, she helped guide the team to two straight conference tournament appearances.
Coach Crawley reflected on two coaches, Fleur Benatar and Hugh Bradford, who had influenced her the most and shaped her into the coach she is today.
The coach wants players with a good attitude and work ethic who put education first. She demands that players know the game of soccer and be ready to compete. She also wants players to come into her program and contribute right away.
Although the Lady Tigers soccer team did not have a big recruiting class, they return four key players from the championship team: midfielders Natasha Nzeakor and Keona Collins, defender Angelica Singh and goalie Cherie Silas.
Crawley said with these players and a mixture of a few more, they can capture another championship. She pinpointed three games on the schedule that are key for her team this season: Sept. 14 at the University of Houston, Sept. 16 at University of North Texas and Sept. 21 at Sam Houston State. Even though they were a championship team last year, they struggled against nonconference opponents, going 0-6-2.
Crawley feels that these three games will be a test and show how much her team has improved against nonconference teams this year.
The team’s playing style will look different from last year after implementing a 3-5-2 system that should help become more offensive minded.
Trying to repeat as champions is a lot of pressure, but the soccer team feels no pressure at all.
“I believe in my girls, and I know how hard they have worked,” Crawley added. “I know where we come from and I know what they are capable of.