Last season, the Elizabethtown College women’s soccer team posted a 13-4 record and made their first appearance in the Landmark Conference playoffs in their first season in the conference. However, despite being the number two seed, the team fell to the University of Scranton Royals in the semifinals. This year, armed with a new head coach and a roster that returns nine of last year’s starters, the Blue Jays are primed for even more success this season.
Head Coach Chris Wilson had his work cut out for him during the preseason, as he needed to simultaneously put the Blue Jays through conditioning as well as train them in the style of play he wants to employ this season. “I try to use our ball work and skill work but add components of conditioning to it, so a lot of the stuff that the girls have been doing in preseason has been for time. So, they’re building their capacity. So not only are they developing skill, they’re also developing fitness with their skill at the same time,” Coach Wilson said.
After the Blue Jays capped off their preseason with scrimmage victories against both Lancaster Bible College and Franklin & Marshall College, the team is confident that they are improving. “The team has actually been looking pretty good in preparing for this year’s season. Everyone seems strong and it is a group of hard-working, determined girls that don’t want to the same result as last year,” sophomore Hailey Parks said.
This year’s roster is full of experienced players, both upper and underclassmen. “With only losing one senior after last season, we’re returning so many talented players and players that have played together in numerous games. Our team chemistry on and off the field will be critical to our success this season,” sophomore Maria Boretti said. Coach Wilson echoed those sentiments. “They know what it’s going to take to get to that next level. It’s great to have that kind of leadership.”
A year removed from being atop the Landmark Conference’s Preseason Coaches Poll the Blue Jays are down two spots, trailing the 2014 Landmark Conference champion Catholic University of America Cardinals and the Royals. “Our expectations are to have a winning season, battle [Catholic and Scranton] and take home a conference championship, and put up good numbers both offensively with goals and defensively with goals against,” Boretti said. One of the team’s six seniors this season, senior Lauren Berry wants to end her Etown career on top. “It’s my last season so I would love to be able to walk away with a conference championship,” Berry said.
The Blue Jays agree that they have a few important things they need to accomplish in order to achieve their goals. “Our keys to success are working hard in every practice, being flexible in formations and positions, playing as a team, and keeping our focus on the next game ahead. We are all determined to make this year an exciting one,” Parks said. Etown’s leading scorer from last year, Berry, agreed. “The team’s keys to success this season are definitely going to be staying calm during game and keep the speed of play up. We are capable of so much this season and all of us want to prove this.”
No matter what the expectations are for the Blue Jays this season, Coach Wilson maintains that he will not be measuring his team’s success in wins and losses this season. “We have goals as a team, they have goals as individuals. We’ve talked about those goals. Personally, I feel if we come out every night and play the way we’re capable of and we have some girls that learn the game and grow, and learn the style, I’m going to consider that a successful season. If we keep getting better every day, the wins will come. We develop, wins will come,” Coach Wilson said. “We just encourage all students that are available to get our schedule and come out to every home game you can because we’re going to need your support. If you want to travel on the road, we’d love to see you at some away games that are close by. And we’re going to do the best we can to continue a tradition of excellence with the Blue Jays.”