Gettysburg College women’s soccer season kicks off
By Andy Milone, Staff Writer
The Gettysburg College Women’s Soccer team started its preseason Monday, Aug. 22 with new members at its front. This season will be the beginning of a transition—a transition from a team without the First Team All-American selection and the 2015 Centennial Conference Player of the Year, goalkeeper Eliza Gray.
“Eliza will be a big loss, and we will need to become more of an attacking team and become better in the final third,” said head coach Matt Garrett. “During the last three or four years, we probably relied on her defensive qualities more, and now we have to evolve our play.”
The first game of the season will be an away nonconference matchup against Lebanon Valley College. Beginning at 1PM on Sept. 3rd, the team will be looking to continue its defensive prowess, which included allowing only six goals throughout 18 matches last season.
Yet there are new additions this year that will be sure to try to follow in Gray’s footsteps.
With three incoming first-year goalkeepers along with returning sophomore goalkeeper, Kiera Loftus, dotting the roster, there will be quite the competition for the play time Gray left behind; and there’s a lot of pressure riding on this play time. Last year, for the third year in a row, the Bullets matched the school record of 13 shutouts. Garrett does not believe the success in the defense is solely due to Gray, however.
“We are a very possession oriented team, and if you look at the number of shots conceded every game, the number is very small,” said Garrett. “We want to progress from a very good possession team to more of an attacking quality team.”
The Orange & Blue will also be looking to improve upon its offensive game on the other side of the ball. Last season, the team only scored more than one goal in six of the 18 games.
This strength in defense and weakness in offense was most evident in the final game of the 2015 season. In the first round of the Centennial Conference Championships, Gettysburg battled Ursinus College. While Gray earned a shutout through the regulation and the overtime periods, Gettysburg failed to score during this time.
“We’re hoping to be a more threatening team in the attacking third. Our strengths have always been in the defensive end,” said senior captain Julia Ramsey. “We want to maintain that this year, but also be more attacking minded and capitalize on more opportunities towards the goal.”
Ramsey, a midfielder, was an All-Centennial Conference First Team selection last season and senior captain Hannah Theurer will join her on the field. Theurer, a forward, leads the Bullets team on the offensive side with nine career goals and four assists. This preseason features 18 total returning letter winners along with 14 incoming first year players.
“The team’s attitude is really good. They are in good shape, and the seniors have done a great job bring them all together,” said Garrett.
Garrett is a veteran to his position, with the 2016 season being his tenth season at the college, but the newly selected assistant coach, Riley Piechnick, will accompany him. Piechnick served as a three-year starting defender at Division I Loyola University. Garrett hopes that with Piechnick’s assistance, he can get his hands on a Centennial Conference Championship, a title Gettysburg has not won since 2004. He led his side into the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament in 2014, and he looks to return to the national stage with this young squad.
The Orange & Blue also lost leading scorer Lauren Schapiro, defensive leader Cailin DiGiacomo, and offensive contributor Melissa Seidner to graduation, but the team, once more, hopes to achieve the title!