Women’s soccer celebrates senior day with a win

Andrew Zienty

Sophomore Lauren Shanks Receiving a pass
Photo: Isabel Sperry

To add to the ever-growing ‘new normals’ of the COVID-19 era, the IWU women’s soccer team held their annual senior day this past Saturday, March 27, against Carthage College. The senior day celebration for women’s soccer is typically held in the fall but was pushed back due to the cancellation of all fall sports.

The Titans lost out on competing for a third conference championship and a fourth NCAA tournament run in four years due to COVID-19 protocols.“It almost doesn’t feel real to think about the fact that they are not going to be here in the fall – Senior Day was a sad reminder of that. I’m so proud of them. They’re going to go on and do amazing things in the real world. We will miss them as teammates, friends and leaders,” junior Sofia Papoutsis said.

This group of seniors now have a 48-16-2 record over the past four years, they won back-to-back conference championships in 2018 and 2019, and they have made the NCAA tournament all three years it has been available.

“Since our first day as freshmen in 2017, we have been putting everything we possibly can into this program. These are the girls you will find at the field at least an hour before practice time or watching and clipping film to prepare for games. This commitment is an expectation we have set and upheld during our four years here. I know the younger girls will carry on our legacy by continuing to set this standard each year. The senior class has so much to be proud of and it still doesn’t feel real that we only have five games left,” Senior Cam Hindel said.

The team celebrated the careers of eight seniors: No. 1/27 Kelli McCarthy, No. 4 Megan O’Neal, No. 5 Maureen “Mo” McGrath, No. 7 Anna Eager, No. 11 Sydney Pinder, No. 13 Cam Hindel, No. 14 Jehan Dib and No. 22 Peyton Howe.

“With how different this year has been for sports, it is a miracle we have been able to compete this spring, let alone continue the tradition of senior day to celebrate the careers of our seniors and show appreciation to their families,” Papoutsis said.

In this altered spring season, the Titans are scheduled to play only conference opponents and have only seven games on the schedule. IWU is currently 2-0 with wins over Augustana and Carthage, 1-0 and 2-0 respectively.

“Even with this unconventional season, it still feels the same in some ways. We’re all competitive. Even if we don’t have an end goal, like a tournament, we’re still going out there and playing to dominate and win everyday. Tournament or no tournament, when we step on the field, it’s a chance to play together again and so we go out there ready to play,” Howe said.

The impeccable goalkeeping play has been from senior Kelli McCarthy and junior Maria Fields, who combined for two shutouts. The team’s goals were by sophomore Lauren Shanks and junior Caelyn Steffans.

I hope that the girls below us continue to uphold this mindset of contributing to the team and program as much as you can so that it’s better for the women that step into your shoes after you’re gone,” McCarthy said.

The team will host North Park on April 1 and then travel to rival school Millikin on April 7.

Junior Heather Dietrich passing the ball upfield
Photo: Isabel Sperry