The Greenville University women’s soccer team started off the season struggling to find a good pace after a tie and three losses. The Lady Panthers spent the first couple weeks of the season traveling on the road to Michigan and Chicago areas. Soon after, they secured two wins under their belt, giving Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Harris-Stowe State University a battle to come out on top 1-0. After building back up the team chemistry and confidence, Greenville fell to Millikin University and Monmouth College the following week. Two weeks before the conference games began, the Lady Panthers conquered Illinois College with a final score of 5-0. Currently, the Greenville University women’s soccer team is 3-5-1.
Greenville University women’s soccer head coach, Jeff Wardlaw, asserted, “Non-conference this year has been significantly more difficult than in years past. For us as a coaching staff, we have to keep the girls going, even though our record is not what it has been over the past two or three years. It’s not because we are not a strong team, but because we are playing better competition throughout the entire non-conference. The reason why we did this is because we believe that we have a championship caliber team and we want to be prepared for the NCAA tournament.” With a week left until their first conference game, the Lady Panthers are digging deep to find the competitive fire that they have been searching for.
Last season, Greenville was ranked 5th in the conference below Webster University, Fontbonne University, Westminster College, and Spalding University. The ladies proved in the conference to be exponentially better than what was expected. Greenville held an overall season record of 14-7-1, while in conference they clenched a record of 6-2-1. The Lady Panthers proved themselves worthy of competing in the final four in the SLIAC. After upsetting Webster University in a brilliant overtime win, their dreams of winning a championship were shattered by Westminster College in double-overtime. Coach Wardlaw said, “I think it gave us experience of being in the championship. I think we had a hangover of taking care of Webster. Such a fantastic win for the program itself. We have matured a lot and I think that we can get back there. The drive that we had in the off season was pushed by the bitterness of losing against Westminster. Sometimes the best thing to happen to a program is losing the year before.”
This season, Greenville has seen various new faces on the field and in the stats. From Novato, California, freshman Jen De Leon De Leon, is currently the leading goal scorer for the Lady Panthers with three goals. With two goals a piece, juniors Kate Arthur and Megan Taylor are the second leading goal scorers, along with another freshman from Troy, Illinois, Jordan Wilson. All tied with one goal this season are seniors, Natty Hepburn-Beaty and Breanna Thomas, and sophomore Molly McDonnell. Overall, Greenville has only scored 12 goals as a team.
SLIAC ranked Greenville University this season as fourth under Webster University, Fontbonne University, and Westminster College. This news to the Lady Panthers was disappointing because of how well they performed last season. However, Webster University has been ranked first consecutively in the past because of its outstanding and undefeated records. Rapidly moving into this conference season, Coach Wardlaw expressed, “We need to take care of the big games and put ourselves in a position to win a championship.” The Greenville University Lady Panthers take on Eureka at home this Friday at 7 pm.
Media by Ellie Cummins.