Women’s soccer prepares for season



Women’s soccer team practices Monday at McConnell Family Stadium.

Alex Pepke, Sports Editor

This year is going to be a little different for the women’s soccer team at Gannon University.
Back in July, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) announced it would suspend all conference athletic events and championships through the fall semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that traditional fall sports like football and soccer will be playing on the other side of Christmas.
Even though it will be unusual playing games in the winter and spring, the Knights are looking to improve on a year when they just missed out on the PSAC playoffs with an 8-7-2 regular season record.
The roster will have some new faces this season as well. Gannon will add 15 new players – six of them being transfers and seven of them being freshmen.
Along with the new players, the Knights also will welcome back Taylor Lewis, who missed last season due to a medical redshirt. Lewis led Gannon in goals (10) and points (27) back in 2018 when she also earned All-PSAC second team honors.
Megan McCartney, the Knights’ leading scorer last year, will also return for her senior season. McCartney led Gannon last season with a team-high five goals and 14 points.
McCartney said rearranging the schedule certainly changes things, but she thinks those changes are for the better.
“It gives us even more time to connect as a whole and perfect our plays,” she said. “Another reason it is good is because I just had surgery on my knee over the summer and it gives me time to get back into shape.”
Back for his 19th year as the head coach of the women’s soccer team is Colin Petersen. Petersen holds the all-time wins record for the women’s soccer program with 158. He said that consistency is the biggest key to getting back to the playoffs this season.
“We played some terrific soccer last year,” he said. “However, I believe there were only a handful of games that we played a full game. There were games that we should not have lost and we struggled to finish out games. Obviously all aspects of the game need constant improvement. I am excited just to be on the field. I believe I speak for the coaching staff and players in thanking Gannon University for going above and beyond to get us back onto soccer field.”
Petersen is keeping the team in shape, as full contact practices have been going on for over two weeks now. As far as preparation goes, he thinks this change of season may actually help them.
“Last season we were devastated by injuries,” he said. “One of the benefits of changing our season to the spring is that there are players that now have more time to recover from their surgeries. We are also able to time our physical conditioning and get players to match fitness over a longer stretch of time. Whereas we usually only have 17 days to acclimate all the new players, we now have more time to get all the players comfortable with our system of play.”
Regardless of the circumstances, the Knights are looking forward to this year and are confident that things will go well.
“I’m excited because we look really good,” McCartney said. “We’ve only been able to play full contact for two weeks and we already are playing so well together. It feels like it’s going to be a great season.”
Scheduling for the upcoming soccer season has not yet been finalized, but PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray said earlier this month that details likely will be released by Oct. 1. The PSAC has already determined that no conference contests will be played before Jan. 17 of next year.
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