On paper, the Slippery Rock University women’s soccer team may show a lack of experience with 12 freshmen athletes on their roster for the 2018 season, but that hasn’t stopped the team from leaping out to a 4-1 record to begin the season.
“I think I’ve been doing this long enough that I don’t get surprised by too much anymore,” SRU women’s soccer head coach Jessica Griggs said. “But I just think it was a great start to the season and the girls really have a lot to work off of with that start so its exciting.”
SRU currently sits in fifth place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) with their 4-1 overall record and 1-0 record in conference play. Bloomsburg University currently sits at the top with a 4-1 overall record as well, followed by Kutztown University (5-1), Millersville University (4-1), and Seton Hill University (4-1).
The 2018 freshman class takes up more than a third of their active roster, which includes just six seniors, four juniors, and six sophomores. Coach Griggs doesn’t seemed worried about a small upperclassmen presence because she always encourages leadership from all of her players especially the underclassmen.
“We have incredible leaders,” Griggs said. “We do a lot within the team to promote leadership and foster young leaders so we’re not foreign to having to deal with the leadership aspect of it, so it has been great.”
When it comes to how the group has adjusted to college play compared to high school and club action, Griggs says the group has come from backgrounds of very competitive teams and programs, which has helped them in the transition.
“The kids that we brought in were already adjusted to being able to play at this speed of play,” Griggs said. “But it’s just getting them involved in our actual style and what we ask so they’ve actually been able to step in really well and play.”
Through just five games, a few freshmen have made their impact on the team immediate, such as forward and Pine Grove, Pa. native Rachel Edge who has made her presence known with one goal and three assists through her first five games in collegiate play which puts her in second in scoring on the team.
“In particularly Rachel Edge who really has actually stepped into this role really well,” Griggs said. “She’s just very athletically gifted and is soaking in every piece of information that we give her so it’s fun to see her transformation because we didn’t exactly know what she would be capable of doing right away.”
Another new piece to the Green and White’s offensive look would be in South Park, Pa. native midfielder Jordyn Minda, who has also found herself a top The Rock stat sheet early on with three goals through five game thus far, including the lone goal in the team’s 1-0 win over Clarion University (0-5) on Wednesday night.
“Jordyn has been special,” Griggs said. “She’s got a ton of pace and her brother [Justin Minda] plays here so she’s been able to come up and see a lot of games through out the years.”
Minda, along with freshmen defenders Katy Ericson and Emily Arnold came from the Pittsburgh Riverhounds Academy where they helped the team secure wins in two US National Club Championships in 2015 and 17.
Griggs enters her fourth year at the helm of SRU women’s soccer, and she explained how even four years ago she knew the class of 2018 was going to be what it is.
“When I got hired we looked and projected into the future and we knew the ’18 class would be our largest class,” Griggs said. “It sounds big, but we’ve kind of known this was coming for a while, but they’re very talented, and academically they’re very good students as well which is great.”
The Rock got their first taste of PSAC play on Wednesday at Clarion, but will move back to non-conference action for the last time during the regular season on Saturday when the team travels to Walsh University (3-1) in North Canton, Oh. with a scheduled start of 6:00 p.m.