After a strong 2019 regular season with a winning record of 13-4, the Emory women’s soccer team saw their season end in the first round of the NCAA Division III Women’s Soccer Championship on Nov. 16. The team lost to the Claremont Mudd Scripps (CMS) (Calif.) Athenas 2-1 at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
At the start of the match, both sides played fiercely, each scoring a goal within the first six minutes. The Athenas struck first in the second minute when senior forward Sarah Toucher volleyed a loose ball off the Eagles’ failed clearing attempt over senior goalkeeper Haley Pratt.
Just three minutes later, the Eagles answered with an equalizer. Sophomore midfielder Lindsey Breskow dribbled around a pair of Athenas and netted a shot to the lower right corner of the goal for her third goal of the season.
Breskow remembered slotting the final goal of the 2019 season for the Eagles.
“Leading up to it, I saw [senior forward Shivani Beall] dribbling into three defenders and knew she would need help,” Breskow said. “I saw an opening to make a run up the field, and when she passed [the ball] to me, I was able to take a touch around my defender. I had a moment to look up and saw the goalie at the near post. I knew I needed to shoot far post right away, and that’s exactly what I did.”
The half ended with the score tied at 1-1, but both teams came close to taking the lead before the whistle. For the Eagles, freshman forward and team scoring leader Natalie Klar shot just past the far post at the 38th minute. For the Athenas, freshman midfielder Mia Duranczyk drilled the middle of the crossbar at the 45th minute from just outside the 18-yard box.
In the 64th minute, the Athenas drew a penalty kick from a one-on-one takedown by Pratt inside the box. With a goal under her belt, Toucher stepped up to take the kick, but Pratt guessed right and saved what would have been her second goal with an incredible dive. But the rebound fell perfectly at the foot of CMS sophomore midfielder Nicole Oberlag, who finished the go-ahead goal.
The Eagles put up a valiant effort attempting to move on to the second round, releasing four shots with two on target in the final 26 minutes of the game. But at the final whistle, the Athenas were still ahead by one and ultimately moved onto the second round.
The Eagles conclude the 2019 season with a lot to celebrate. Pratt, Beall and freshman defender Peyton Robertson all received All-University Athletic Association (UAA) First Team mentions. Junior midfielder Samantha Hilsee received a UAA Second Team mention, while senior forward Caroline Kolski received a UAA Honorable Mention. Robertson was also named Rookie of the Year of the UAA.
The Eagles’ coaching staff, made up of Head Coach Sue Patberg and assistant coaches Valorie O’Brien, Mike Wentzler and Catherine Whitehall, were named UAA Coaching Staff of the Year after leading the team to a 5-2 conference record.
The Eagles will graduate five accomplished players in Pratt, Beall, Kolski, defender Paige Santee and midfielder Morgan Brandewie, nicknamed “The Fab Five” by the team.
Santee, who has anchored the defense in her four years as an Eagle, believes that her time at Emory working alongside the other seniors has impacted her life tremendously.
“Being a part of this team and this program has been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences I have ever had,” Santee said. “As a class, we have seen this team change and grow in such a positive and powerful way over our four years. This team taught me how meaningful something can be if you invest in something greater than yourself.”
Santee added that being an Eagle changed her and her teammates’ lives.
“There is no doubt that Emory soccer has made all of us [seniors] who we are today,” Santee continued. “It’s what brought us seniors together, and it will remain central to our friendship for the rest of our lives.”
Indeed, the Emory women’s soccer program has inspired its players and will continue to do so for seasons to come. As we say goodbye to the “Fab Five,” we look forward to seeing the growth of younger players in the 2020 season.