(Council Bluffs) — The Iowa Western women’s soccer program won the NJCAA national championship Saturday with a 1-0 win over Salt Lake Community College.
Head Coach Adam Sanchez joined Monday’s “Further Review” show to discuss an incredible run to the program’s second national championship and first since 2013.
“The tournament was really designed for a team that could get hot,” said Coach Sanchez. “Our last loss was to East Florida in August, so we were super motivated to get some momentum going and peak at the right time. When we went into the tournament we were the 9th seed and at no point did the girls think they were a 9th seed. They had a chip on their shoulder and wanted to prove people wrong.”
The Reivers, who finished the season 19-3-1, avenged that earlier loss to East Florida with a 4-2 win in a domestic semifinal.
“We learned a valuable lesson early on playing in East Florida,” said Coach Sanchez. “They were the defending champions and we dominated them in the first half and felt really good at half-time. Then for the next 20 minutes, East Florida showed us what national champions do. You beat us. It was the mentality that beat us. We learned from that and we knew that if we want to win big games we have to have this similar mentality.”
As he built that mentality, Coach Sanchez noticed a growing faith in his team. Building a roster at Iowa Western generally involves mixing a variety of different cultures.
“It’s a challenge we’re happy to accept,” said Coach Sanchez. “We think our diversity is a strength, and with it comes a certain unpredictability. I think that was fully showcased in the national championship. We were super diverse. We could attack in different ways and we were also super flexible in how we defend.
A small part of this diversity is the town of Council Bluffs itself. The Reivers received important input from three natives. Abraham Lincoln grad Hanna Schimmer had 20 goals and 13 assists that year, earning her the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference Player of the Year. Additionally, Thomas Jefferson graduates Jacquelyn Moreno and Rukhshonakhoni Muidinzoda appeared in 15 and 16 games, respectively.
In addition, the roster included athletes from five other states in the United States and four other countries.
“It’s a challenge,” Sanchez added. “Bringing groups together and overcoming differences, finding common ground and common ground. Then we appreciate the differences we have. Praise the team for caring and loving each other. One thing we value deeply is empathy. We think empathy is a championship trait and the girls showed tremendous empathy for each other.”
Listen to much more with Coach Sanchez from Monday’s Upon Further Review below.