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The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Women’s Soccer Ends Regular Season at Home

After splitting a pair of away games, beating Beloit College and losing to Carroll University, the Grinnell Women’s Soccer team looks to end their regular season strong at home with games against Ripon and Knox Colleges before heading into the Midwest Conference (MWC) Tournament in two weeks as one of the top three seeds.

“[This season has] been really exciting,” Head Coach Heather Benning ’96 said. “We’ve come off two seasons when we didn’t make the conference tournament. And in our 25 year history there’s only been three years when we haven’t made it. A big a goal for us this year was to get back to the conference tournament.”

A win 5-0 on Saturday, Oct. 22 over the Beloit College Buccaneers secured the Pioneer’s spot in MWC Tournament. The women gained a 3-0 lead in the just the first 11 minutes and stayed sharp, ensuring a victory. Goals were scored by Rachel Koester ’13 on assists by Jordan Young ’14 and Eden Marek ‘15, Becca Carter on a 40-yard free kick and Elle Silverman ’15, all of whom scored for the first time this season.

Carroll proved a tougher opponent.

“We knew coming into it that Carroll was coming back with a vengeance because we beat them last year. We played well,” said Team Co-Captain Cynthia Dominguez ’12. “We didn’t get as many shots off as I thought we should have. I think if nothing else it was a learning experience and were pumped to see them again so we can beat them this next time.”

Carroll got off to a quick lead with a goal in the sixth minute and added one more in the 44th, which was all the offense the game saw.

“I think that their coach made some tactical adjustments to counter us because all three of our scouting reports were very consistent but different from what they showed us yesterday so we got caught off guard early on and Carroll was able to earn a couple quick corner kicks and they put one of those away,” Benning said.

Regardless, there was still much to be gained.

“I think it was a good opportunity for some of our younger players to step up and fill some roles that due to injuries had opened up. It was a good chance for them to fill in and see what is necessary to play at the highest level,” Kathryn Vincent ’13 said.

The score doesn’t tell the full story.

“They were dying in the last 20 minutes,” Benning said. “[They] were looking to just bring the ball to the corner and possess it. That’s a sign of a team that’s concerned we’re going to make a comeback.”

One reason for Carroll’s exhaustion may be Grinnell’s depth. With an unusually large squad of 31, with around 20 playing per game, the Pioneers have come to realize there is power in numbers.

“I think that our seniors have been really great leaders in saying ‘this is how many people we have on the team, we’re going to make the most of having a very large squad.’ And it’s meant that some of them get less play than they’ve been used to the past two years but they’ve taken that in better stride than anyone so I think that’s really helped,” Benning said.

Having more players has made the team more competitive, though not in a hostile way.

“It’s definitely been the most competitive team I’ve been with since I’ve been here,” Dominquez said. “Our subs go in and they’re just as strong as the people who start”

“We’re all working toward a common goal,” Benning said. “They’re competitive to push each other to train hard but they’re not competitive to push the next person out. And I really think that again, a lot of that comes from our captains and our seniors. They’ve lead that dynamic with the team.”

That depth has been critical as the Pioneers have suffered injuries at critical positions. Dominguez, a forward, tore her MCL seven games into the season against Lawrence University. She hopes to be back on the field this weekend for the Sunday’s game against Knox, which is also Senior Day. Also injured is forward Patty Murphy-Geiss ‘14, the team’s leading goal scorer. Luckily, their depth has proven capable of picking up the slack.

“Twenty-one of our players have goals or assists, so there are a lot of other people who can step up,” Benning said. “That’s a phenomenal statistic.”

Besides being larger, the team is also tighter on the field.

“The whole time I’ve been here, we’ve had a lot of team cohesion, the team’s gotten along really well, but this year it’s translated to the field more. ”

Looking to this weekend, the Pioneers play the Ripon College Red Hawks on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 11:00 a.m. on Springer Field. Although they are already in the MWC, the match is still important to their seed.

“We have Ripon this Saturday and that’s a must win if we want to finish in the top two,” Benning said.

On Sunday, for Senior Day, they will play again at home on Springer Field, this time against Knox College at 11:00 am.

“The mentality is just to finish off the season with two more wins. That’s what we’re expecting to do,” Dominquez said.

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