The Knox College Women’s Soccer team will kick off the conference tournament at home on Friday, facing St. Norbert in an attempt to move on to the championship on Saturday.
The three teams other than Knox to make the tournament are Lake Forest College, St. Norbert College and Grinnell College.
Knox remains undefeated, while St. Norbert is 9-7-1 overall, Grinnell is 9-6-2, and Lake Forest is 10-7-1.
The team is confident they will win Friday and move on to the championship Saturday.
“The competitive atmosphere is roaring, and everyone is prepared to take it to them. We have a point to make, and a season to finish off strong,” Goalkeeper Sierra Daniger said.
Star junior forward Kayla Brown believes Grinnell will be the toughest opponent this weekend.
“We did play them in season, [but] we weren’t on the top of our game and only beat them 1-0. We are looking forward to playing them again and redeeming ourselves,” Sophomore Jenny Crary explained.
The team has changed a few things on the field, and are excited to see how they hold up against the competition.
During the week leading up to the tournament, the team continues to train hard and analyze film of the teams they will play.
Freshman Annie Peterson observed, “usually we analyze the film of how [our opponents] play, but we’ll be looking at what we did wrong.”
Crary added that last year the “goal [was] to just make the Midwest conference tournament, and due to our talent and hard work, we did just that. This year, our goal was to earn top seed in our conference and win it all.”
So far, the Women’s team has reached their goals, as they closed out their undefeated season atop the conference standings.
When Daniger spoke about St. Norbert, she quickly mentioned Maddie Plinska, their goalkeeper, as a big threat.
Plinska has 86 saves this season, and has started every game this season.
Ellie Lochner and Monica Stephans are their strongest forwards, leading the team in points, Lochner tallying 15 points and Stephans 17.
Peterson and fellow freshman Jenna Milligan recognized one of the forwards on Grinnell, Carolyn Silverman, saying that she will be a real challenge.
Peterson explained, saying, “She’s really fast and a big threat up top.”
Silverman is leading the team with 17 points, and has started every game this season.
Daniger mentioned Hannah Truesdale as well, with a total of eight points this season, the second most on Grinnell’s team.
Knox players don’t seem to think they will face Lake Forest again, but their goalkeeper Rachel Tentua, is a very strong player, compiling 47 saves this season.
Among their forwards, sophomore Susie Baca has tallied 11 points, and junior Kayla Wuest has 10 points.
When thinking back on past Women’s Soccer seasons, Crary commented that it does not compare.
“Three seasons ago, the Knox soccer team had no reputation. Then last year, around 30 freshmen were brought to the program by coach Paul Lawrence. We changed the program for the better and earned a spot in the tournament, which is historical in itself.”
The girls believe they can take the next step this year and bring home the conference championship.
“It’s going to be really exciting,” Brown said. “Especially knowing we have the ability to win it.”
Individuals on the Women’s team commented on how special it is to be able to play in front of a home crowd for such monumental games. They are excited to see how much they will be able to feed off of the big Knox crowd’s energy during the most important games of their season.
Having already accomplished the first part of their season goals by going undefeated and finishing atop the conference standings, the Knox Women’s Soccer team hopes to conquer their next goal and make history as the first Women’s Soccer team to win the conference tournament championship.