MONTGOMERY, AL.: When the final whistle blew on Nov. 6, and Emily Fleming and her Alabama State University (ASU) Hornets women’s soccer team realized they had won the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship, it all felt like a dream.
Fleming, of Fall River, and her Lady Hornets teammates scored a 2-1 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on the back of stellar goaltending and a two-goal outing by Ariela Lewis. It was the third time that the Hornets had made the championship, but the previous two attempts they had been on the losing end.
“I was in utter shock. It didn’t even feel real,” Fleming told The Laker in a Nov. 9 interview. “I looked at my defensive line and we just started screaming. But once I made my way to my best friend Larissa White, who I had gone through it all with, I started balling my eyes out.
“Finally having that sense of relief knowing that I pushed myself all season and to have it all worth while was the best feeling. To share that moment with my teammate and Larissa was something I’ll cherish forever.”
The 19-year-old midfielder played the final half of the game out of position after some position juggling by the Hornets coaching staff.
“Playing defence during the last 45 minutes because they had pulled me from forward to play wing back, I had to completely re-think the way I was playing and to not let their forwards score,” she said. “Having that pressure on me was really stressful.”
Fleming, a sophmore on the team who is taking Biology pre-med, said it felt good to finally capture the elusive SWAC championship.
“We went out and played well,” she said. “All season we worked hard to get to this point and I knew that we had the talent and heart to pull though. I believed in the team from day one.
“I’m so glad I was able to experience a title with this group of girls.”
She talked about how close the game was.
“To be in a game that close and intense was honestly so crazy,” Fleming said. “I constantly had mixed emotions”
Fleming had some insight on the reaction as the Presidential Election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton unfolded.
“Being in America while the elections are on is very different,” she said. “I didn’t expect it to be such a big topic because in Canada It’s just so nonchalant. The election was so close.
“Every person I asked who they where voting for had no idea what to do. So I just sat back and watched it all unfold.”
She spoke about their first round opponent in the NCAA Tournament, South Carolina. It was a dream come true for her.
“When I saw our teams name up there on the NCAA board; it was a dream come true,” said Fleming. “Growing up, I’ve always talked about going to the NCAA tournament. I’m so happy I got to experience this. Not everyone makes it to the tournament. It was a very special moment.”
ASU just needs to believe in themselves, said Fleming, for a positive outcome against South Carolina.
“We are the underdogs but if we believe, as cheesy as it sounds, we can do anything,” she said. “We have such great talent from all over the world. If we just show up to play on Friday (Nov. 11), give SC a run for their money, we could make a huge upset and shock everyone.”
Fleming and her teammates from the Lady Hornets fell in the first round matchup to South Carolina 8-1, and were eliminated from further play. They take solace in the fact they made it farther than previous ASU teams.