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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Conference play gives soccer fresh start

The Grinnell Pioneer’s Women’s Soccer Team will be playing their first conference game at 1 p.m. tomorrow at home on Springer Field against Illinois College of Jacksonville. As the team approaches the halfway point in the season, the Pioneers, who are 2-4, hope to change the way the season has been going. 

“A win against Illinois College would set the tone for the rest of our conference games,” Kathryn Hardy ‘13 said. “I believe we’re fully capable of bringing home a win.” 

This season has been rough so far, as the girls have faced fierce competition against non-conference foes. 

“As we head into Midwest Conference play,” Women’s Soccer Coach Heather Benning said. “The team brings with it experience from facing one of the best teams in the nation [Washington University] and strong regional opponents [St. Olaf and Dubuque].”

The team has also suffered numerous setbacks, including its fair share of injuries, but they have come out both physically and mentally stronger for it, showing tremendous promise and drive. 

“I think our mentality has gotten a lot better,” Dylan O’Donoghue ’11 said. “Knowing that when people get healthy, we can always step it up, then seeing that improvement with healthy players is really nice.”

“It is clear that this season is one for growth,” Hardy said. “Early this season we had to compensate for many injuries. Our bench has been small, so there have been some accommodations on the field to players’ positions to make things work.” 

“If we get a setback, just keep trying to push forward,” Donoghue said. “Because really once you enter in conference, there’s no going back. You just have to continue playing game after game.”

These obstacles forced the team to trust each other more and fill the positions that have been hit hard. 

“We have an extremely young team, with only two seniors,” Hardy said. “This has forced everyone to step up and take their own leadership position on the field, whether they are a first year or senior.”

The short roster has also meant increased playing time for those still able to play. The added experience has been a positive, especially for the younger players.

“A lot of people have really great fitness,” O’Donoghue said. “We always play other teams that seem to step it up to the next level. And so, I think that only challenges us more. Each game improves our fitness.”

With more than half a season left, the team believes that it can turn around and get back in the win column.

“There is improvement after every game,” Hardy said. “This was seen especially after our game against Webster this past weekend. I believe the team is ready for Saturday’s first conference game against Illinois College, and I’m excited to put together the pieces we’ve been working on in practice and previous games for a time when it really counts.”

 Despite the setbacks, O’Donoghue wants to let the rest of the conference teams to know that they won’t be walked on.

“I’m sure other teams have looked at the website, and said, ‘Hey, Grinnell’s fallen off a bit this year,’” O’Donoghue said. “But we’re still playing Grinnell Soccer. Grinnell Women’s Soccer has a really strong history of being one of the better teams in the Midwest Conference, so as long as we can show people that we’re still all business, we’ll come up with good standings.”

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