Section: Soccer

Women’s soccer reflects on final loss

For the first time since 2006, Ladies soccer finished two consecutive seasons with a winning record. Kenyon (11-7-1, 5-2 NCAC) tied for third place in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) regular season standings.

“Anytime you can finish with a positive win-loss record, that’s a good thing,” Head Coach Kelly Bryan said. “If you get to double digits, that means there are obviously quite a few games where we did put things together.” The team started out 0-3, but went 11-4-1 over their final 16 games.

In a 1-0 loss to Denison University (15-3) on Wednesday, Nov. 4 in the NCAC semifinals, the Ladies lost their title as defending NCAC champions. They had defeated the Big Red 1-0 three weeks earlier in double overtime at home. The game featured teams with two different strengths. While Denison’s offense scored a conference-leading 20 goals this season, Kenyon instead featured a dominant defense and had allowed just three goals in conference play.

“We’re still decompressing, but next year does start now,” Bryan said. “Things don’t stop.” Bryan has been head coach of the team since 2003, and her Kenyon record stands at 94-89-14.

“A goal for us moving forward [is] just being able to adjust to playing with different personnel,” she said. According to Bryan, certain playing styles did not sync with others until much later in the season than she would have hoped.

Some players, shone on their own. Gillian Blackwell ’17 was a bright spot for the Ladies during the season, winning two consecutive NCAC player of the week awards in October. Blackwell scored both goals in a 2-0 win at Hiram College on Oct. 13 before assisting on the game-winning goal in the double-overtime 1-0 win against Denison four days later. She finished the season with six goals and three assists while starting 17 of the Ladies’ 19 games.

Goalkeeper Alissa Poolpol ’16 stood out in claiming two Kenyon single-season records with 10 shutouts and a [goals against average] of 0.56. Poolpol also collected a total of 78 saves en route to registering a save percentage of 76.

Other leaders this season included Claudia Brown ’19, who had three assists, and Maggie Smith ’17, who scored nine goals and had three assists.

The team had a number of exciting victories during the season. One such highlight was the team’s Sept. 17 game against Defiance College (Defiance, Ohio). The Ladies dominated from the opening minute, scoring a season-high six goals. This was the team’s fourth win in a row as part of a seven-game winning streak that would end with a 2-0 loss to Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland) on Sept. 29.

Despite having a winning record for the second season in a row, Bryan sees plenty of room for the Ladies to improve. “We would have loved to have 12 or 13 [wins] — I mean you’re always looking for more, but overall, it’s a positive,” Bryan said.

While the team will graduate some critical senior players in Poolpol, defender Marie Laube and midfielder Jane Symmes, Bryan said the roster won’t change too much, as the team consists mostly of first years and sophomores.

The end of the season marks a period of self-reflection for players. Maggie Smith ’17 points to the impending departure of the seniors as a loss in itself. “We’re OK — we’re really sad about losing the seniors,” Smith said. “Whenever you’re done with the season, I always feel sad because we’ll never play with the seniors again. That’s the biggest loss.”

Rishi Choubey contributed reporting.

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