by Gwendolyn Peterson
With a strong end to the preseason and an exciting 4-0 win in its first match, Cedarville University’s women’s soccer team is looking forward to the season ahead of them.
Starting the year with no injured players and strong upperclassmen as well as freshmen, Jonathan Meade is beginning his second season as head coach with confidence.
“It’s a super group of ladies that love God and want to glorify Him in what we do. And I think we’re going to give our fans some good games to watch,” Meade said.
Sophomore forward Hannah Atkinson said that they have a very well-rounded team this year with a wide range of collegiate experience.
“We have some really technically gifted players and also physically gifted players,” Atikins said. “We’re thinking we’ll be really solid in all areas of play.”
The team also has a mix of experience, with a good number of sophomores and juniors and a new group of nine freshmen.
Meade said he was impressed by the character and drive of the freshmen.
“They’re good soccer players too,” Meade said. “I really feel like we’re moving in the right direction, and some will definitely get some playing time this year.”
Players to watch
Other players that Meade has big expectations for are two seniors who were redshirted last season but are back and ready to play.
Grace Miorelli and Stephanie Cradduck were both injured for the 2016 season, but have recovered and are able to play their final seasons for Cedarville.
“They’re talented, experienced, and I expect they’ll have big seasons for us,” Meade said.
Meade also highlighted players from the large group of juniors on the team, including Alyssa Maillefer and Hannah Atkinson, the two leading scorers from last season.
Junior Creslyn Van Dyck is another returner that Meade is excited about, as she is returning after having brain surgery last November.
“That’s a huge blessing just to have her back, and she’s a talented player,” Meade said.
Atkinson said the team chemistry has been great thanks to having a team with so many returners.
“Last year we had so many new players and even a new coach. But now, the freshmen were able to come into a team that has some team chemistry already built,” Atkinson said.
Meade said that chemistry is a huge part of the sport.
“You need to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and see who meshes with who. We want to get that down so we can be ready to hit on all cylinders,” Meade said.
Standing Out in the G-MAC
As the season progresses and the chemistry builds, the Lady Jackets are prepared to head into what could be a more challenging season than the last.
Last season, Cedarville finished third in the G-MAC. This season, the conference is adding four teams that were previously in the GLIAC: Walsh, Ohio Dominican, Lake Erie and Findlay. Walsh had one of the better records in the GLIAC last season with an overall record of 10-6-4.
With the conference growing from eight teams to 12, and adding more competitive teams, this season may prove to be a change for the Lady Jackets. With the increase in teams, each will compete against the other only once in the regular season.
“Every game is a big game, “ Meade said, “but traditionally Trevecca and Ursuline have been big ones for us.” Trevecca and Ursuline finished first and second in the regular season last year.
Pursuing the Right Goals
Despite having a more challenging season in front of them, Meade has his sights set on a higher cause than simply getting the win.
“We want to have an impact on our opponents. Not just from a soccer standpoint, but from a spiritual standpoint,” Meade said. “We have a chance to pray with close to 600 different opponents this year, and that would be awesome if they all allowed us to do that.”
Gwendolyn Peterson is a sophomore English major and off-campus news writer for Cedars. Her favorite things include being outside, Ron Swanson quotes, and Oreo Thins (because the serving size is four instead of three).