Although the women’s soccer team finished its season with a 2-1 loss at the hands of the Gettysburg College Bullets on Oct. 30, the group celebrated senior night prior to the start of the match. They recognized the accomplishments of their graduating members who have tirelessly dedicated themselves to the team throughout the last four years.
It was a whirlwind year for the soccer team, which was mired by challenges stemming from the fact that they were unable to play last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Consequently, they entered the season with a significant amount of turnover, as over three quarters of the team had never played a minute of soccer at the collegiate level prior to this year’s opener. “The program is better off now than it was at the beginning of the season and that was one of our key objectives,” said team captain CeCe Peden ‘22. “I watched players grow in confidence, leadership, ability and determination. Our struggles were rooted in our youthful roster. We lacked experience, but gained it over the course of the year. It is clear to me that the players I will leave behind are hungry and want to win in 2022,” Peden said.
The youth and inexperience of the roster gave way to some silver linings this season, particularly for the team’s juniors, who have not faced organized competition since their first season of collegiate soccer. Further, they were afforded the opportunity to step into leadership roles and saw significant playing time. “Our rising seniors such as Noemi Di Cori ‘23, Emily DeAngelo ‘23 and Sasha Chirinkin ‘23 saw a lot of time this season, and they will be prime contributors to the team’s inevitable success next year,” said Lindsay Scott ‘22. For the team’s juniors, the lessons learned throughout this difficult season will help to guide their approach next year.
“Even though we had a tough season, I learned that positivity brings a lot to the team culture and will lead to good things if everyone is dedicated and believes in winning,” said Chirinkin. “During my senior year, I will make sure everyone maintains a positive attitude and try to be more of a leader on the field by motivating everyone and making sure each practice is taken seriously.”
The culmination of the season marked a bittersweet ending to the seniors’ athletic careers.
One characteristic that is apparent in each of the graduating members is that the passion they have for soccer seems to have instilled a relentless work ethic. “I have monstrous aspirations that I cannot wait to inch closer towards, after an undergraduate career during which I focused on getting to where I am today,” Peden added. “It won’t feel quite like I am finished until I do not have to constantly train this off-season or report to preseason this August.”
It seems fitting that there was no shortage of nostalgia during the pregame festivities. “I’ve devoted so much of my time and energy into this program and it gave me memories to last a lifetime in return,” explained Peden. “I’ll miss the need to be passionate about the game and the way the competitive atmosphere motivated me to train harder than I ever could have imagined. At the same time, between COVID and a torn ACL taking two seasons from me, I am glad to have the memories from freshman and sophomore year to cherish.”
In spite of the fact that the season did not go according to plan, things are looking up for the Mules. “The future of the team looks bright. With Coach Weitie [Weitzman] leading the way, I believe our players are fully prepared to do whatever is necessary to achieve the results they so badly wanted this past season. I foresee a Centennial Conference Championship and an NCAA tournament bid in the future for Muhlenberg College women’s soccer,” Peden said.
“The hope is that this season provided some of the younger players with the college soccer experience that they needed to make the team successful in 2022,” added Scott.