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The Scarlet & Black

Women’s Soccer takes second in MWC

The Grinnell Women’s soccer program is pleased with the outcome of their season. Grinnell finished as tri-champs of the Midwest Conference with a record of 10-6-2. After two years of not making the tournament, the team saw the possibility for more this season.

Kathryn Vincent '13 makes a play for the ball during the MWC Tournament Championship game against Carroll COllege o SUnday, Oct. 30. Photograph by Andrew Kelley.

“Coming into this year, I think we all felt like there was potential to do something better than we had done in the previous two years,” said Head Coach Heather Benning, “One of our goals was to finish as one of the top two schools in the league, and we wanted to be back in the conference tournament. … It was really rewarding to get to that place, especially given that the league coaches had picked us to finish sixth”

Along with an influx of talented first years, the women’s team had a strong set of players who all felt the team coming together in a strong way. Their team chemistry and camaraderie seems to be a central part of the success of this year.

“I was really happy with how the season went. We ended the season last year in sixth place and this year we tied for first so that was really exciting for us,” said Sam Bates ’12, a graduating senior on the team. “Another big thing was that we have a lot of players on the team now who have played a couple seasons together, so it was kind of coming together as a team and especially offensively we rearranged our system so we had more offensive opportunities and our forwards were working really well together.”

The women’s team started out their season with a loss against Cornell College. They then went on to play other colleges including the toughest MWC competition in Carroll and Lawrence.

“One of the biggest high points, for me anyways, was when we beat Lawrence. Lawrence was really big for us because they won the tournament last year, and so for us that was a sign that we could beat a really good team and that we were starting the season off right,” Bates said.

Not everything went well for the team, though. In addition to their unpredicted success, they faced unwanted trials.

“I think the low point, for all of us, were the number of injuries we had. It’s so frustrating and heartbreaking to have injuries, but then especially to have injuries to your seniors, which is where almost all of our injuries came this year,” Coach Benning said. “You get the first one and you know that injuries happen in athletics, but by the end of the season the fact that we had four was frustrating.”

Although injuries could have been a major setback, the team was still able to be highly competitive. Benning attributes this to their size.

“We had such a big team this year and we focused on the team being first in everything that we do, being inclusive of the 31 girls on the team and having that large team helped us overcome the injuries to an extent,” Benning said. “It also really allowed us to attain the goals that we had set because we had such a team-first mentality we were able to stay on track.”

The team has high expectations for next year, raised by the success of this season.

“I think we should be even better next year. We’re losing six seniors who all contribute something to the team, but we also had nine first years this year who all are probably going to do great things next year too. I think we’ll do as well as we did this year if not better,” said Captain Nicole Sipfle ‘13

The leaving seniors have thoughts about what comes next for the team as well.

“I expect them to win the conference tournament next year,” Bates said. “This year we made our goal and we made it to the tournament which we haven’t done in a couple years. So next year I think the next step is to win conference. And I honestly think we could have done it this year.

“I’m sad to be leaving! I love soccer and playing with this team has made it so much more fun. The girls are so nice and we have a really great team dynamic. It’s going to be really sad to leave.”

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