Written and Media by Taylor Purkey.
“I am a member of a team and I rely on the team; I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.” – Mia Hamm (U.S. Women’s professional soccer player)
The Greenville College Women’s soccer team’s conference match against Principia didn’t start until 5pm, but the Lady Panthers were up bright and early Saturday morning, September 1. By the time 7:15 hit, the shuttler doors closed and the ladies were off to Belleville, Illinois.
Every year Heidi Koehl, former player and now the assistant coach, and her family put on a race in honor of Koehl’s older brother Peter who passed away from an accidental drug overdose in 2003. Four years later, the Koehl family began to put on the 5k in order to raise funds for a home where young adult males suffering with substance abuse can go and get clean. For the past several years, the GC Women’s soccer team volunteers at the race to encourage runners, hand out water, clean up after the race is done, and most importantly, support a member of the team. This shows time and time again that the commitment of a team is so much more than how they interact on the field. They are not just teammates, they are sisters.
After a filling lunch and naps all around, the Greenville Lady Panthers were pumped and ready for their second conference match up, this time against the Principia College Panthers. Former GC players knew as soon as they stepped on the field that the game was going to be rough. There was a light drizzle and the muddy field caused problems with traction and passing during warm up. With Greenville’s strategy of play being possession, the Lady Panthers were told multiple times to get used to the way the field was playing. However, it proved very difficult to get used to a field where the ball bounced multiple times over a three yard pass. It was going to be a long game.
The opening whistle blew and for the first few minutes, Greenville dominated. However, after the ten minute mark it was a quick downward spiral. GC passes went to Principia rather than to Greenville. The panthers were not emptying their tanks. Head Coach Jeff Wardlaw emphasized the importance of giving it all that you have for the past two games and the ladies thought they were playing hard, but it wasn’t good enough. Within the first twenty minutes, Principia put the ball in the back of the net to go up 1-0 on GC. The halftime whistle blew and the Lady Panthers headed to the locker room.
Coach Wardlaw entered the locker room to find a group of very frustrated girls. What did they need to do differently? According to Coach Wardlaw, playing direct was the answer.
“Go direct!” Wardlaw yelled over and over again from the sideline at the start of the second half, yet his players tried to pass around Principia. Principia intercepted pass after pass. When Greenville tried to go direct, it was more of a driven ball barely in the air. Principia defense intercepted these as well. “If you’re going to go direct, miss long,” Wardlaw directed his players. Half-time had no effect on GC. Principia scored off of a free kick in the sixty-third minute putting them up 2-0.
A ray of sunshine shone in the seventy-fourth minute as Freshmen Breanna Thomas scored a goal for the GC off a beautiful corner kick by Sophomore Dani Pearce. Although the panthers fought hard to earn that goal, Principia fought back. Not even a full minute later, they found the back of the net once again to make the final score 3-1.
Although Saturday’s game did not go GC’s way, Saturday’s 5k went better than planned! Peter’s Place is closer to becoming a real place rather than just an idea. However hard a game, the Greeenville Women’s soccer team is still united with the same goal: to encourage one another to do well, their spirits are far from down. Their next conference game is Saturday, October 8th at Fontbonne. Wish the players luck as they continue in their season!