The Slippery Rock University women’s soccer team ended their season in disappointing fashion when they learned they would not receive an invite to NCAA tournament this year.
SRU’s overall record of 11-6-1 includes wins over tournament-bound California University of Pennsylvania and Kutztown University. It also includes a win over 10-win Edinboro Univeristy, and losses against the top two seeds, East Stroudsburg University and West Chester University, 1-0.
“I was confused why teams we beat got in and not us,” SRU head coach Noreen Herlihy said. “We just need to continue to gain experience, and we just have to eliminate errors that we were making this season.”
It’ll be tough for the returning players to make up for the experience that is leaving the Rock, which is the senior class of Ali Brosky, Brooke Edwards, Nicole Krueger, and Leslie Henny. These girls are leaving the Rock as one of the most decorated classes Herlihy has ever coached. At their time at SRU, the team has compiled a record of 56-21-8, won one Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championship, and advanced to the national quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament three times. The 56 wins over these girls’ four years is the third most in any four year era in SRU history.
“It’s never easy replacing seniors,” Herlihy said. “Hopefully, the next generation will lead the way after this tremendous senior class.”
One bright spot for Herlihy is that SRU is bringing back 17 of 21 players from this season’s roster, including nine players who started at least nine games this year.
One of these returning players is soon to be senior midfielder Crysta Ganter. She believes that next year’s senior class has potential to go further than this year’s class with all the players returning, and do it with a chip on their shoulder.
“We’ll come in with frustration,” Ganter said. “We will be ready to take over and lead the team like they did.”
There is plenty of potential for next year’s team, seeing as how they are returning their top two point scorers in Andrea Felix and Tess Keeley. Another important player returning is goaltender Annabelle Hegeman, who posted a goals against average of .70.
Even though the team’s goal is always to get to the NCAA Tournament and they didn’t receive a bid, Herlihy still believes the season was a success. However, Ganter does not feel the same way about this season as her coach.
“It was not a big success for us,” Ganter said. “It would be for other teams, but not for us, because the standard is to get into the NCAA Tournament.”
For Ganter, the biggest improvement the team needs to make is to score more goals and win the games they are supposed to win. Herlihy is poised to get next year’s team back to the tournament, and hopefully do some damage in it as well. The training will start early to get these women ready for the grind of a full season, which will possibly lead to great things.
“Preparation will start at the new year,” Herlihy said. “We will be looking to get better every day with this new class.”