In the 2021-2022 season, UT Martin walked away with the OVC regular season title and hosted the championship. Unfortunately falling short to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in overtime at the championship game, UTM was hopeful for another good season in 2022-2023.
The Ohio Valley Conference finished up regular season play in late October, quickly followed by the championship kick-off with the top 6 teams in the conference.
“We’re looking for a little bit of momentum. This has been an indifferent season for us, coming off the success from last year,” UT Martin Women’s Soccer Head Coach Phil McNamara said.
The team started off the season with setbacks, they had graduated many of their star players and starters and had to bench more returning players due to injuries, forcing the team to play with less experienced players.
“We’ve been a little short in certain areas and we’ve been on the wrong side of a few results this year just because of our experience. But, I feel like we are in close contact to the very best teams in the league,” McNamara said.
Close contact indeed. The team again was able to play in the first-round championship playoff. UT Martin performed well defeating the Little Rock Trojans one to zero. However, they lost to Morehead State University in their quarterfinal game in a shootout.
“The season was not what we expected, but tournament play was. It was a UTM fight to the end,” Ryann Mushkin, a redshirt senior from New Canaan, Connecticut said.
He says that he appreciates the setback of playing with new starters, “It’s a great experience for those players, and it’s healthy for the program moving forward.”
Mushkin said that this season helped open her eyes, “I learned that every season is different and there are takeaways from every season as well. This year is something to build upon for the next fall season. The girls will take the spring to train and prepare in order to come back for the fall ready to win. It added more fuel to the fire.”
Coach McNamara, who is in his thirteenth season with UT Martin, says that the team is looking for momentum and recovery. He has received three OVC Coach of the Year honors during his career at UTM, receiving them in 2012, 2018 and 2021. Also accredited with 5 OVC Championships in 2009, 2012, 2013, 2018, 2021; 2 OVC Tournament Titles in 2011, 2012; and 2 NCAA Tournament appearances in 2011 and 2012.
In future seasons, he says that students can support the team by coming out to the games and having fun. “They’re noisy and it’s fun. We’ve had a lot of fun experiences here. No question, [this is] one of the best locations for atmosphere in the league. And we’ve benefited a lot from that…”