Softli’s Season Is ‘Beyond My Expectations’

By Mason Kelley

For the Washington women’s soccer team, 2013 was anything but a season to remember. The frustration of a finish that failed to meet expectations sent a message that reverberated through the program.

As the Huskies looked ahead, they were pushed by the past, an idea that “this can’t happen” again.

“We came together as a team, figured out what we needed to do to fix things, changed up how we were practicing, just the culture,” senior Jaclyn Softli said.

Fueled by frustration, Washington has been one of the surprises in the Pac-12 this season. As the Huskies (12-6-2, 5-4-1 Pac-12) have surged, so has Softli. The forward has scored 10 goals so far, leading her team to a first-round NCAA tournament matchup with Rider on Friday at Husky Soccer Stadium.

“For me, it’s beyond my expectations,” Softli said. “I didn’t expect to score 10 goals this season. I didn’t really know what was going to happen, but I’m pleased with how I’m playing right now.”

Her success this season has been two years in the making. Named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team in her first season, Softli played through a back injury she suffered late in the season.

“I didn’t exactly know what it was,” she said. “I just played through it.”

With a little rest after the season, her back started to feel better but, by March, the bulging disk was “worse than ever.” She had surgery and, by the time her sophomore season started, she wasn’t “sure if I was 100 percent ready fitness-wise to come back.”

She finished the year with three goals and one assist. Then as a junior, she had two goals and an assist. 

“I had two years that weren’t up to my expectations,” Softli said.

The local product – she played high school soccer at Eastlake in Sammamish – didn’t want to end her career with a third consecutive disappointing season. Like her teammates, she trained with a purpose in the offseason.

“After making the All-Freshman team my first year, I didn’t want to be done there,” she said. “I didn’t want to leave this program not having made a mark.”

She has certainly left an imprint on her final season in purple and gold. The standout opened the year with two goals during a 4-1 victory over Kentucky. It was at that moment, Softli and the Huskies realized, “We can do something special this season.”

Washington suffered a setback recently, dropping a pair of games to USC and UCLA. The losses provided a well-timed, wake-up call for the Huskies.

“We got a little complacent,” Softli said. “We hadn’t lost in six games. I just think we kind of got away from the things we needed to focus on like we did at the beginning of the season.”

Softli believes the team is capable of an extended postseason run, but at some point, this surprise season will end. She hopes her soccer career continues.

“I’m going to try and keep playing after this, whether I get picked up in the draft or if I can go overseas, but this just really shows people how far I’ve come over the past four years,” she said. “I am still learning and growing as a player and I will continue to grow.”

Regardless of what happens in the future, Softli plans to make the most of the Huskies’ upcoming postseason push.

“The fight in this team is unbelievable,” she said. “You never know what’s going to happen. All it takes is one goal. There’s a lot of potential in this team to go far in the tournament.”

Softli entered her final collegiate campaign with something to prove. She has done just that. She is making her last year, her best season. 

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