Correlation and Impacts
One might argue, that there may be a coincidence that female soccer improved in North America, at Trinity, and amongst the national team when the United States won the World Cup in 1991. However, similar effects happened when the United States was able to win again in 1999, this time as the host nation. For example, U.S. Youth Soccer reported that over the last twenty years, girls’ soccer increased its participation close to 37% and between the 1999 win for the U.S. Women and 2014, there has been an increase of 44% in high school soccer participation.
The graph on the Left, with organge and blue graphs shows the increase in participation in female athletics from 1972 until 2011. Overall, there is steady growth, however, there seem to be the most extreme increases around the two World Cup wins for the United Sates in 1991 and 1999. From this picture, one can infer that the success of the USWNT at such an important worldwide sporting event, resulted in more opportunities and participation for women in sport. Examining the effect at Trinity, in particular for females, the Women’s Soccer Team at Trinity, had never reached the NCAA Tournament until 1992, one year after the 1991 victory for the United States. During the eight year stretch between 1991 and 1999, the women’s program reached the NCAA tournament all but one year. After the completion of the 1999 World Cup, the Women’s program reached new heights almost immediately after, reaching the Elite 8 in 1999 and the Final Four in 2000 and 2002. In the 1999 season which took place after the completion of the World Cup, the women’s team set program records in attendance during a 15 win and 5 loss season which ended in the final eight of the NCAA Tournament. They had two games that were particularly popular, once drawing 400 fans, and other time over 500 for an NCAA Tournament Game. Over the next four seasons, the Trinity women would be a national title contender each year. In both instances, when the USWNT had extraordinary results, it seems to have boosted the women’s soccer program at Trinity to new heights. This is due to the increased popularity in the game of soccer, more females were playing at a high level with improved training and opportunities. The Tigers also attempted to emulate the style of play that the USWNT played and still continue to display to this day. The USWNT had the recipe for success and it was the Tigers’ goal to emulate that, in which they did a fairly good job of. The increased success, exciting brand, and buzz around female soccer in America also intrigued more fan support and support from the athletic department at Trinity.
The graph to the left, with red and blue bars depicts a direct correlation over roughly a thirty-year period between growing success of the Women’s National Team and wins of the Trinity Women’s Soccer Program. Each year, both programs built off the success from the year prior and became elite teams in their respective competitions.
While the women at Trinity had an exponential growth in success within the soccer program, the men’s program had a more consistent rise to success. This also correlates with the USMNT results and relevance in the world of soccer. Paul McGinlay, who is now the winningest coach in D3, holds the record for most consecutive home wins in NCAA History, and has coached Trinity to an NCAA best 17 consecutive NCAA tournament berths is considered a legend in the game. However, success didn’t always come so naturally for the Tigers under McGinlay. It wasn’t until 1999, that the Tigers began to have real success comparable to the women. After steady growth, in 1999 the program took a turn for the best when the men won 16 games and the conference championship. Just three years later, McGinlay lead the team to the 2002 and 2003 Final Four. A runner up in 2002, and National Champions in 2003, placed the program on the national stage and McGinlay and his program never looked back. How does this compare to the USMNT during a similar time period? When looking at the results, there is also a close relationship between the two sides’ results.
The graph to the left with white and red bars displays the number of wins over the course of three decades. This graph however, is different because the number of games played by the USMNT and Trinity were not equal so comparing first team wins wouldn’t be accurate. To make this more accurate I included the results of the younger USMNT teams over the same time period. In fact, I believe this is more indicative of the trend of U.S. Soccer. Similarly, to the women, the correlation is strong and suggests that the success of the national team sparked and increased interest in soccer in America and at Trinity.