Women’s Soccer Senior Legacy
February 28, 2017
Filed under Sports
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After winning the 2016 Conference Championships and making an appearance in the NCAA tournament this past fall, the Luther College Women’s Soccer Team (LCWS) is graduating 11 seniors this May.
Despite their ultimate success in the 2016 season, LCWS faced hardships throughout their most recent season as well. This past fall, the team was not able to play at home until the end of September due to flooding. Ultimately, they played only six home games and travelled a total of 4,766 miles by bus to play away games. In the middle of September, LCWS lost to both UW-Whitewater and UW-LaCrosse — two teams that appeared in the national tournament in 2015. Through rainstorms and delays, Head Women’s Soccer Coach Russell Schouweiler believes the team needed to lose.
“They were battle-tested,” Schouweiler said. “If you can deal with [all] that, you can deal with some crazy girl trying to knock you down for 90 minutes.”
This adversity paid off for the team who ended up with a record of 13-3-3 which earned them a berth in the NCAA III National Tournament for the first time in school history. The 2016 season brought many other awards and honors for the team including co-conference champions, with a record game winning streak of 13, and an overall National Soccer Coaches Association of America ranking of 25th in the nation.
This season was not typical of the careers of the 11 seniors on the team. With their 2013 season beginning with four straight losses, the LCWS seniors had a rough start to their Luther College soccer careers. Throughout their four years on the team, the seniors accrued school records such as Best Start to the Season in 2014 and Most Consecutive Wins in 2015, yet they did not go to the national tournament until 2016. According to Schouweiler, the current seniors’ rocky first seasons did not deter them from making history; they set a school record winning streak of 13 matches this past season.
“This group of seniors had to go through a lot,” Schouweiler said. “They were 1-5 their first six games. It’s fantastic for them to go out in the way that they did.”
Beyond the statistics, school records, and their bout in the national tournament, the seniors of LCWS have impacted the team in crucial ways.
Melisse Chasse (‘17) a leading forward for LCWS, described the important lesson other players can take away from the seniors.
“We have had to learn some tough lessons, but as a group we were able to rise and end up on top,” Chasse said. “I hope future players look at our years here and see that believing in your teammates is necessary for success on the field.”
Erin Danielson (‘17), a senior midfielder, hopes the legacy left by this year’s seniors is one of team unity.
“How successful they are as far as wins and losses next year doesn’t matter as much to us as team chemistry and things that are less sought-out on the statistics sheet,” Danielson said.
The number of graduating seniors in 2017 is a big turnover for LCWS, who lost only five seniors last year. Of the ten graduating, seven were starters, ensuring that the team on the field next year will be very different.
Attacking center midfielder Lauren Hughes (‘17) talked about the future of LCWS after she and her fellow seniors leave.
“A lot of players will definitely be lost, but we aren’t irreplaceable,” Hughes said. “I think we have strong personnel that will step up and continue the success of LCWS.”
Younger players on LCWS will have to rise to new leadership roles, but the fresh-from-nationals team plans to maintain their strong cohesiveness and heart as Lindsay McFarland (‘20) explained.
“The seniors definitely built the foundation of the program and what LCWS stands for today,” McFarland said. “Next year will be different, but what’s not going to change is our identity. We are still LCWS soccer.”