Seniors make mark on program

The Gannon University women’s soccer team’s loss to  Kutztown in the PSAC quarterfinals last week not only ended the Knights postseason run.

The loss also ended the Knights’ hopes of making their second-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament field, which they failed to make as the committee chose the field Monday.

The Knights finished with 9-5-4 overall record and a 6-4-4 mark in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, a drastic difference from last year’s 4-10-4 and 3-9-2 marks.

This season saw a myriad of fallen records courtesy of senior forward Amanda Sharbaugh. The Knoch, Pa., native scored 17 goals, surpassing Erin Cray (1997-2000) for the most goals scored in a single season and for a career at Gannon. She finished her four-year career with 51 goals to go along with 124 points, also a Gannon record.

“I’ll never forget the big wins and the tough losses,” Sharbaugh said of her career. “But what I’ll cherish the most are the life lessons I’ve learned that you can’t learn in a classroom and my teammates and coaches that I’ve made lifelong relationships with.”

Sharbaugh characterized this year as a good run.

“It was a memorable year, especially ending on our home field with a 5-0 win against Mercyhurst,” she said.

“I had amazing support around me and I was driven by my teammates.”

Coach Colin Petersen said he will miss her presence.

“Well the first thing that I’m going to miss is she’s just a great kid,” he said.

“She provides so much character to our team. She brings so much to our team. She’s kind of one of the those kids that come around once in a lifetime.”

Two of those teammates who Sharbaugh played alongside this year were freshmen, both of whom started every game for the Knights: forwards Michelle Genetin and freshman midfielder Justine Rodrigues.

Genetin finished the year with three goals and four assists and provided Sharbaugh with assistance on the frontline. Rodrigues recorded five goals and five assists, sitting only behind Sharbaugh for scoring the most points on the team in her first year.

“For me personally, I definitely felt myself getting better as a player towards the end,” Rodrigues said.

The midfielder originally entered the season as a forward, but transitioned well into the middle of the field after Petersen made some changes to the lineup.

Rodrigues said she and Genetin looked up to Sharbaugh.

“Coming in and hearing about them all through last year from the coaches and seeing their record, seeing Amanda’s record, it inspired us to want to play and work and be just like her,” she said.

The freshman midfielder said she is looking forward to next season with the talent returning.

“This year, it was only myself and Michelle, so we had to kind of  carry the weight of being freshmen on our backs between the two of us,” she said. “But next year it should be good.”

Gannon will replace six seniors, but will also in turn produce five more seniors for the 2012 campaign. “We have a pretty good core coming back,” Petersen said.

Of those seniors, only three were full-time starters this season. But senior midfielder Katie Urban and Sharbaugh together accounted for almost half of the offense in terms of goal scoring.


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