Women’s Soccer Closes Successful Season

Michael LeClair

A fantastic season for Colgate women’s soccer ended on a sour note on Friday, as the Raiders fell to fourth-seeded Penn State, 5-0, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. A loss to the #16 team in the country was not unexpected for Colgate, as the Nittany Lions have won twelve consecutive Big Ten titles, and had home-field advantage for the first two rounds of the tournament.

The match did not start out well for the Raiders, as Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Katie Schoepfer blasted a shot into the top-left corner of the goal from 35 yards out in the 18th minute, a stunning display of skill that put the Raiders down 1-0. Schoepfer did not let up, and in the 39th minute, slammed another long drive, this time from 25 yards out, smacking it off the crossbar and behind Colgate first-year goalkeeper Ashley Walsh. As the second half rolled around, Schoepfer sealed her hat-trick, scoring her 14th goal of the season by slotting her effort past Walsh to the lower-right corner. Penn State’s Danielle Toney and Jackie Molinda added goals in the 61st and 73rd minute, respectively, to seal the 5-0 victory, and advance to the second round. In that game, Penn State was crushed by six second-half goals, and fell to Virginia, 6-2.

For Colgate, sophomore midfielder Danielle Wessler led the team in shots, registering two shots on goal over the course of the game. Walsh made four saves in her 80 minutes of work, while senior Carrie Glass, making her first appearance of the season, made five saves in the final 9:39.

Injuries marred Colgate’s performnce, and certainly had an impact on the course of the game. Senior forward Jillian Arnault and junior forward Anna Baldwin were both knocked out of the game early with injury, subtracting veteran leadership on an already very young team.

The loss should not detract from what was a monumental season for Colgate soccer. With a young nucleus, Colgate managed to win its first Patriot League title since 2004.

“This team stands out because it is a team that just ended up clicking really well in a number of ways,” Arnault said. “Through the many ups and downs, [the team] has been an incredible support system for one another.”

Awards poured in for the Raiders throughout the season, culminating in All-League designation for four players. Arnault and junior defender Calista Victor were named to the All-Patriot League first team, while senior defender Liz Polido and first-year forward Jillian Kinter were named to the All-Patriot League second team. Additionally, standout goalkeeper Walsh was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Year.

“We are definitely going to be able to achieve great things next year,” Wessler said. “We have a new-found sense of confidence and know what it’s like to be Patriot League Champions. We won’t settle for anything less.”

“The overtime victory over American [in the Patriot League final] is something I will never forget,” Arnault said. “It was a fairytale ending.”

With such a standout group of young players, so closely knit, and with an evident swagger that few teams possess, August 2010 cannot come soon enough for Colgate women’s soccer.