Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University’s women’s soccer team had never experienced a winning season in the program’s first eight seasons of play, but four years ago twin sisters from the nation of Columbia — Natalia and Tatiana Ariza — help change the programs fortune and move them to one of the elite teams in the Ohio Valley Conference.
In their first three years for the Lady Govs, they have helped lead the team to 36 wins – the most by any senior class in school history, with a year still to go – five OVC First-Team honors and one Second-Team nod.
APSU Soccer’s Tatiana Ariza and Natalia Ariza
Tatiana was also named the OVC Freshman of the Year in 2010 and OVC Player of the Year following the 2012 season.
They have also rewritten the Austin Peay record book, with Tatiana already the school all-time leader in points, goals, assists and penalty kicks made, while Natalia enters her final season sixth in points, seventh in goals, fourth in assists and tied for third in penalty kicks made.
“We have a very special group of seniors, including the Ariza’s,” Austin Peay head coach Kelley Guth said. “They are special players and have had wonderful careers here so far and they, as well as their teammates that came in with them, have helped changed the culture of our program and have led us to where we are now in the conference and I’m excited for them in their senior year to compete at the highest level and compete for an OVC championship.”
Austin Peay Soccer’s Tatiana Ariza and Natalia Ariza. (Courtesy: Austin Peay Sports Information)
But it isn’t at Morgan Brothers Soccer Field only that the Ariza’s have brought exposure and a positive impact on the program, as both represented their home nation of Columbia in the World Cup and Olympic Games in-between their season’s at Austin Peay over their first three seasons.
I’m excited to get our senior season started and we are working hard to get everything done,” Tatiana said. “I never imagined all the things that I’ve done and it’s like a dream come true being in the Olympics — representing my country — and being here playing soccer and getting an education. It had been some amazing experiences and I just want to continue to do my best.”
Still despite all of their accomplishments so far in their careers at Austin Peay, a conference championship had eluded them – with losses in the conference title game in their freshman and junior years — and they know this is their last chance to earn that championship ring.
“Time has flow by and this is our last opportunity to win a championship,” Natalia said. “Coming up short, including last year, is a huge motivation for us and I think we’ll be ready to do what we have to do to win it this year.
“We have a lot of returning players back (this season) and I think all the experience we have playing together in the past will help. It would be a fairy tale type of end for our careers to be able to go out with a championship.”
Tatiana and Natalia Ariza. Austin Peay Lady Govs Soccer. (APSU Sports Information)
The Lady Govs and Ariza’s final run at that championship begins this week with three exhibition games – including at home versus the University of Evansville (August 14th, 7:00pm) and Freed Hardeman (August 16th, 7:00pm).
The regular season opens August 23rd, 6:00pm CT, at Chattanooga, while the Lady Govs home opener is August 30th versus Arkansas-Little Rock at 7:00pm.
“They have had a significant impact on our soccer program they’ve broken records and made history, but they still have a little bit of unfinished business,” Guth said. “You can do all of that, but if you don’t walk away with the ultimate goal of winning the OVC then it would be a disappointing end to their careers, so we want to do everything that we can to put us in a position to play for a championship at the end of this year.”
Wither their senior season ends like a fairy tale or in heartbreak, the Ariza’s won’t be done with soccer when their careers come to an end at Austin Peay, as the pair look to play professionally here in America or possibility in Europe.
“First, I’m just thinking about this season,” Tatiana said. “But we would like to play professional here in the U.S. or in Europe.
“There are some options that we are looking at, but first we have to finish up here the best way we can and then think about everything else later.”
Added Natalia: “Right now it’s all about the season and after we’re done, then we can think about the future.
“We’re still with our national team, but now we’re on the senior team. That is every four years, so we have some time to play here before going back and playing for our country again.”
About Chris Austin
Chris Austin is a graduate of Clarksville High School and Austin Peay State University.
Chris is a former Head Softball Coach for APSU, and assistant basketball coach for CHS.
Chris has worked at the Leaf-Chronicle, and WJZM News/Talk/Sports radio. Has also worked at the Sports Information Department at APSU, and has covered championship events for the Ohio Valley Conference and NCAA.
Chris is an avid sports fan and can be found at most Austin Peay State University sports events.
Web Site: http://www.clarksvillesportsnetwork.com
SectionsAnnouncements, Austin Peay State University, Featured Story, NCAA, Ohio Valley Conference, Schools, Soccer (Women), Sports
TopicsAPSU, arkansas little rock, Assists, Aug. 14th, Aug. 16th, Aug. 23rd, Aug. 30th, Austin Peay, Austn Peay State University, Chattanooga, Clarksville TN, Columbia, Europe, Freed Hardeman, goals, Kelley Guth, Lady govs, Morgan Brothers Soccer Field, Natalia Ariza, Ohio Valley Conference, Olympic Games, OVC, OVC First-Team, OVC Freshman of the Year, ovc player of the year, OVC Second-Team, Penalty Kicks, Points, Tatiana Ariza, U.S., University of Evansville, World Cup