Women’s Soccer Team Looks to Continue Success
The women’s soccer team has something to brag about: Players hold the fifteenth spot in the Continental Tire NCAA Division III National Poll with only two games left in regular season play.
The Cougars held the number 12 spot in the previous week’s poll, marking their highest ranking in school history. The team’s two losses came from contests against the number 1 and 4 teams in the country.
When senior captains Bridget Fortier, Nikki Hensel, Sam Helmstettler and Laura Roney were taken by surprise by the national rankings.
“It was pretty cool to see, like, we’re that good,” Hensel said.
The team expected a winning season, only losing one senior last year, but their expectations were not quite so high.
“I expected us to do well but I don’t think I realized what that meant. I expected us to win games but I never realized we would be recognized,” Roney said.
Head coach Mark Stauffer is proud of the achievements and credits good leadership and depth with the reserves on the bench. The reserves to count on make the team stronger on and off the field, Stauffer said.
“I think that is very important in the program because you’re not going to win with 11 players. You need to have that depth in players that aren’t complaining about playing time but making the best of their playing time as reserves and working hard everyday to make their game better,” he said. “I feel like we can go to our bench and we’re still creating good chances for ourselves.”
The captains agree having the whole team prepared makes the team’s chemistry much stronger than it was in past seasons.
“It’s been more of a team effort this year than it has any other year. A lot of other years we were 12 or 13 deep but this year it’s the whole team going into it, from the freshmen up, everyone has bought into playing the way we want to play and playing hard,” Roney said.
The Cougars look to prepare for the conference tournament with only two regular season games left against Scranton and Manhattanville this week.
“Hopefully we can win out and get ourselves the number one seed for the conference tournament and win that and get to the national tournament and see what happens from there,” he said.
The team doesn’t plan to make many changes during their tournament play. The captains say they need to stay focused and confident. As seniors they have one last chance to make their mark.
“This is our year to capitalize on all of our work, all of our achievements over the last four years, this is definitely it,” Helmstettler said.
The team is already looking to opponents they may face in the tournament, including Eastern and Wilkes. And while players would like to have another chance against teams like Ithaca who beat them in the past, they look forward to facing new opponents.
“It was neat to play different teams because it was new and different. You don’t really know what to expect,” Hensel said of past years in the tournament.
Stauffer praises the work his team has put into this season, on and off the field. By working hard and acting smart they haven’t had to overcome any big obstacles and this allows them to focus more on practice and preparation for future games, said Stauffer.
“We’re going to take it one game at a time and step on the field, 11 versus 11 and try to beat who is in front of us,” he said. “I’m excited to see what this team can do in the tournament.”