Rebuilding is a term that is used grotesquely to describe a time period in which a team is destined to have a so-so year — not good, not bad, just … average.
But no other word could describe the Shippensburg University women’s soccer team’s season as sublime as this.
The Raiders, with only four seniors on the team, including star defender Cassie Armold and reliable midfielder Molly Sanders, finished the season at 6-9-3. If only records dictate the heart that this team had. Five of SU’s losses could have gone in the win column as it lost by one goal in all of them, including a 2-1 heartbreaker against California University of Pa. to close out the year.
“This year was sort of frustrating because we are so talented in every aspect,” Sanders said. “We have skill, technique, and we were well conditioned and could hold our own with every team.”
That skill and technique was demonstrated early on as the Raiders pulled out key victories against PSAC foes Indiana University of Pa., Clarion University and Slippery Rock University before stumbling late in the season, recording four straight losses.
With the departure of Sanders, Armold, Katie Leverentz and Rhonda Runion, the Raiders need to fill in holes around all areas of the pitch.
Defender Kylee Bricker and forwards Rachel Hess and Ashley Vellucci look to be the catalysts for the Raider squad next year. Bricker’s physical play will be much needed around the box while Hess’ and Vellucci’s ability to score from all angles of the pitch make this team potent for the 2013 season.
Next year, the Raiders need to rely on their underclassmen to fill in as role players just as they did this year. Sophomore Kate Zech shined coming off the bench, leading the team in goals and points. It is this kind of effort that Sanders said will need to be there if SU plans to make a push for a PSAC playoff berth.
“They need to keep the heart and keep that fire and desire to win, because in the end, that’s what wins soccer games,” Sanders said.
For the seniors however, this season, and all the others, have been an experience they will cherish.
“My general experience with the SU soccer team has been an amazing one and made my time here more than I ever expected,” Sanders said. “Even though we did not make playoffs, that does not change how great it has been to be part of such a great team and to have gotten to play with some amazing, talented girls.”