The Elizabethtown College women’s soccer team’s season is best described as resilient. The once 0-3 Blue Jays are now 7-4 and 2-0 in the Commonwealth Conference.
After starting the year with three straight losses, the Blue Jays won four straight games, going above .500 for the first time of the season. A home loss to Haverford College knocked Etown back to an even 4-4 record before they rattled off three straight victories — including a 1-0 upset of seventh-ranked Misericordia. The win launched Etown into the top ten in the regional rankings and gave the team confidence heading into conference play.
“It’s great to achieve a ranking like that, and we’ve worked hard to earn it, but we still have a long way to go,” sophomore Trisha Clark said. “It is very encouraging to have something concrete to look at to show that we’re moving in the right direction. We just want to make sure we don’t stop there.”
After a blowout win to open conference play against Albright College, the Blue Jays traveled to Alvernia College to face the Crusaders on Oct. 9. First-year Elyse Koterwas made the most of her first career start with a header in the eighth minute of the contest. Her first career goal was set up by a corner kick off Clark’s foot, who recorded her fifth assist of the season. Etown threatened to increase the one goal lead late in the first half, with scoring opportunities by sophomores Lauren Fredericks and Kara Weller, but both shots were denied by Alvernia goalkeeper Colleen Maher.
Etown’s sophomore goalkeeper Dana Robidoux continued her season-long success, stopping five of Alvernia’s shots on goal. The only blemish on her stat line was an Alvernia goal in the 63rd minute by Laura Mauroschadt, tying the game at one apiece.
The game remained tied over the next 17 minutes, with each side attempting one shot on goal. Sophomore Lauren Berry, whose shot was denied in the sixty-ninth minute, took a pass from first-year Sydney Nester and found the back of the net for her team-leading tenth goal of the season. The Blue Jays dominated time of possession in the final ten minutes of regulation and held on for the 2-1 victory.
“This next week is by far the most important stretch we will have this season,” Clark said. “It’s now the middle of conference play, so every single game is make or break. There’s no room for mistakes anymore, so we’re bringing our ‘A’ game this week.”
The victory over Alvernia increased Etown’s win total to seven in their last eight games as they head into arguably the biggest game of the season against seventh-ranked Messiah College. An extremely rainy end of the week led to the teams postponing the highly anticipated game back until today. The two teams will now kick off tonight at 6 p.m. on Ira R. Herr Field.
“The Messiah game is always something special. Just the entire mindset and mood surrounding our team for the week leading up to Messiah is different,” Clark said. “It’s great that we get to have a go at one of the best teams in the country, and we want to come out and show them that Etown women’s soccer is not a program to be overlooked.”
The Messiah Falcons were unanimously selected as the best team in the preseason Commonwealth Conference poll, receiving all ten first place votes. They have dominated the Commonwealth Conference in recent years, winning the last six conference championships. With this being the last year Etown is participating in the Commonwealth Conference before their move to the Landmark conference next season, they will look to duplicate their success of the 2006 season when they took home the conference title; the last team other than Messiah to win the championship. “We want to make a statement and say that we’re here to compete with the best teams in the country, and we’re capable of doing that,” Clark said.
After the Blue Jays take on Messiah, they will close out the week at home on Saturday afternoon when they take on Hood College. It is the annual Homecoming game and kickoff will be at 2 p.m.