Women’s Soccer Looks to Rebuild

After suffering through myriad injuries, Sagehens hope to bounce back

After posting a fifth-place finish in SCIAC and a 5-7 record this fall, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team is looking to put together a better showing next year.

“We had a lot of potential, a lot of good players, and we didn’t do quite as well as we wanted,” said Pomona junior Martha Marich, one of the team’s starting center defenders.

The team was decimated with injuries from early on in the season, losing senior defender Chelsea Muir PO, junior midfielder Jenni Hebein PO, and freshman Emma Wolfarth PO, Ari Sanchez PO, Rachel Schade PZ, India Richter PZ, Kara Freedman PO, and Talia Shulman PZ. Even those that did not suffer injuries that forced them to miss games often battled persistent problems while playing.

“The injuries we suffered last season really prevented us from doing as well in SCIAC as we would’ve hoped to,” said Wolfarth, a goalkeeper.

After tearing her meniscus in preseason training, Wolfarth was sidelined for the entire year and only got to play in one game, a late-season win against CMS. Wolfarth made several key saves in that game, including tipping a late shot over the crossbar to secure the game at 2-1. Her performance earned her Sagehen of the Week in TSL; just a month later, she was having knee surgery for her original injury.

Hopefully all of the fitness training the team is currently undertaking will help prevent these types of injuries next season. In addition to their intense conditioning regimen, the team was emphasizing technical speed and skills, according to Anika Burrell PO ‘13.

“This is the most training P-P women’s soccer has done in recent memory,” she said. “We’re setting the bar high for everyone next year.”

While the returning players are working hard in preparation for next year, their offseason has been plagued with a familiar problem. Captain Rachel Eckerlin PZ ‘12 is returning in the fall for her fourth year of NCAA eligibility, but she has to take the spring off and is thus not attending practices. Marich is missing from the action as she resumes her role as the leading scorer on the women’s lacrosse team. Hebein is currently abroad in South Africa, and last season’s leading scorer Allie Tao PO ’14 has missed the first couple of months this spring due to an unfortunate bout of mononucleosis. This has left a core group of only five to six girls that are consistently lifting weights, playing small-sided games, and working out with the football team in an Advanced Conditioning PE class. As official offseason training begins with Coach Scanlon after spring break, and the players anticipate having a better turnout for practices.

“This year, as opposed to years past, a much larger percentage of the team is from Pitzer, and with them having very different schedules from us, they’ve been having to do most of the workouts on their own,” said Wolfarth. “But hopefully as we start practices [with Coach Scanlon] more people will be able to make it.”

For Marich, there’s no problem with this system. She finds the importance of the offseason to be individual development, which can then be translated into team development in the fall.

Even with a large number of players missing the beginning of spring training, the team seems hopeful for the fall season.

“With 12 freshmen on the roster this year, we have a lot of potential for the future. They just have to adjust to playing college soccer, which can be tough your first year,” Marich said.

Tao, who scored six goals in the 2010 season, echoed that thought.

“The freshman class has definitely had an impact on the program just by sheer number, but will continue improving over the course of the next year,” she said. “Every player on the team has the heart to play at this level, and if we can use spring training to hone our technical ability we’ll be a force to reckon with in the fall.”

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