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The Scarlet & Black

Women’s Soccer receive Platinum Ethics Award

Co-captains Eliza Bunnell ’19 and Gwen Holtzmann ’19 collect the Platinum Ethics Award.
Co-captains Eliza Bunnell ’19 and Gwen Holtzmann ’19 collect the Platinum Ethics Award.

By Lily Seibert

The Grinnell women’s soccer team recently received the Platinum Ethics Award for their 2018 season, an honor given to teams with zero yellow or red cards throughout the course of an entire season. The Pioneers represent just one of seven NCAA teams at all levels to achieve this feat.

“I think it’s kind of something that just happened,” said co-captain Gwen Holtzman ’19. “That’s not to say that we don’t always strive to play at a high level, which obviously involves playing good soccer, and also playing clean soccer. So I think that’s inherently one of our goals.”

Co-captain Eliza Bunnell ’19 credited head coach Kirsten Koester for fostering a culture that always regards sportsmanship as a cornerstone of the team.

“[Coach Koester] has always said we play pretty soccer,” said Bunnell. “We don’t resort to getting dirty when things aren’t going our way. We hold our own and play the game.”

Soccer players can earn yellow and red cards for displaying unsportsmanlike conduct, a term that often encompasses excessive roughness. However, the Pioneers managed to balance a fine line between playing aggressively and keeping their composure on the field. Despite never receiving a card, they played at a high tempo and maintained control of several tight matches.

“It’s the kind of award where sometimes you think, oh, did they lose all their games?” said Holtzman. “We actually won the most games in the past five or six years. So what I was so impressed with was the team was able to be so successful and be so competitive while still keeping our heads.”

While both captains stressed that unlucky cards or accidental physicality can happen to any team, there are certain measures players can take to lessen their chances. For example, limiting retaliation against opposing teams and de-escalating tense situations play an important role in keeping games as clean as possible.

Holtzman and Bunnell are two of the eight senior players graduating this year for the Pioneers. However, they both feel satisfied with their final season, knowing they played hard with sportsmanship in mind.

“I think it’s a great way to go off,” said Bunnell. “I think it’s really nice to have a strong season where we’re really successful and winning games. And also to be recognized in this way is kind of like an indication to me that we’re playing good soccer, we’re playing the sport well and the way it should be played and not playing it dirty, which are things that I take pride in.”

Despite the strong leadership and expertise that the seniors bring to the team, the captains are confident that the rising seniors and other team members will be able to fulfill the team’s high expectations, both in terms of performing well and maintaining strong ethics.

“I think really we’re building a program and each year we get a little stronger in different ways, whether it’s winning more games or getting less cards, or whatever it may be year to year,” said Holtzman. “I do think we’re on an upward trend.”

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