The Slippery Rock women’s soccer team will look to defend their 2012 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship title this fall. Last year’s title-winning team also appeared in the third round of the NCAA Division II tournament. The 2013 season marks the 20th year of the women’s soccer program at SRU.
The 2012 season resulted in a 14-6-3 record and the Green and White being voted the 17th best team in Division II. SRU was also voted to finish second in the PSAC in preseason polls.
Fellow PSAC member, Westchester University, was voted fourth in all of Division II, following their 1-0 victory over the Rock in the round of 16 at the NCAA tournament and the Golden Rams brief appearance in the quarterfinals. West Chester was also the team voted to finish ahead of SRU in the PSAC division.
Entering her 19th season as head coach of the women’s soccer team, Noreen Herlihy is coming off a season where she was voted PSAC and Atlantic Region Coach of the Year by her fellow coaches. Following the 2012 season, Herlihy looks forward to the young talent and veteran experience that will come together on the field this season.
“We always have youth in this program,” Herlihy said. “With 20 out of 27 players being underclassmen and already showing their talent, the future remains bright. Winning last year gave the freshman a great taste of what winning is like. Coming back this year they will be out to get it again.”
In addition to commemorating twenty seasons at SRU, the Green and White will welcome Seton Hill University and the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown to the PSAC. With 16 teams now making up the PSAC women’s soccer conference, the top eight teams will be eligible to compete in the PSAC playoffs.
Out of the 27 members of the women’s squad, three players will be returning as seniors. Dana O’Neill will be on the field as goalkeeper, and Izabel Scott and Lauren Impey as defenders.
As a redshirt senior, this will be O’Neill’s fifth year on the squad.
“I think our hope and expectation for this upcoming season is to just take every game one at a time.” O’Neill said on the teams outlook.
In addition to O’Neill returning to the squad, junior Leslie Henny will be rejoining the squad at the midfielder position.
With her experience from last year on the team, she knows what the team needs to do differently on the field.
“Last year we had a slow start to our season and it took much longer for our team to come together.” Henny said. “I think things are looking much better for the start of this season.”
With only one of the 17 regular-season games being an out of conference game against Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia, SRU will be pushed to find their stride immediately to guarantee their chances of making the playoffs.
Coach Herlihy was pleased with the team’s initial preseason ranking but is more concerned with the results the season will produce.
“I think it’s a nice way to get our name out there. We are definitely a top team in the nation,“ Herlihy said. “It’s a lovely honor for the program, but it only really matters at the end of the year.”
Slippery Rock will kick off their 20th season with a home game on September 4 at 4pm on the James Egli Field.