The SUNY Geneseo women’s soccer team and Head Coach Nate Wiley enjoyed a banner season this past fall. Winning the program’s first SUNYAC Championship in five seasons and moving on to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time since 2009, Coach Wiley (who was voted the SUNYAC Coach of the Year) took some time to recount some thoughts about the season and what went into the squad’s success.)
The 2014 season was one of great hope for our team. We were coming off of a 2013 campaign in which we made it to the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Championship game, despite having a plethora of first-year players on the squad. Also, with the help of our new assistant coach, Scott Faro, who came to us by way of my nearby high school alma mater, Byron Bergen, (where he previously had the great fortune of coaching me!), we also implemented some new team strategies in the off-season.
Fitness was a major preseason focus for us and we certainly made some great strides in that area that paid off during the season. Another major change was our system of play. We have traditionally utilized a 4-3-3, but felt that a 3-5-2 would be better suited for our personnel. This also meant that we would be moving some players around to better suit their individual skill sets.
One of those players was sophomore Meaghan Johnston, who we ended up moving from our defensive line to our midfield line. Named only the third All-American in program history as well as SUNYAC Player of the Year and a first-team all-conference selection following the season, it looks like the move apparently worked out!
Complimenting Meaghan’s move into the midfield was the addition of first-year forward Leah Greene, who made an immediate impact on our program right from the start. Greene led the way with 15 goals and 36 points on her way to earning the SUNYAC Rookie of the Year recognition as well as being named first-team all-conference. She scored a goal in 10 of our last 12 matches of the season, including the game-winner to beat Cortland, 1-0, in the SUNYAC Championship game. We are all excited to see what she has in store for the next three years for sure.
One of the strengths of our program over the years has been our defense. This season, our backfield was led by Second-Team All-SUNYAC senior goalkeeper Allison Stamp and two-time all-conference sophomore back Alexa Wandy. The defense put together an astounding 13 shutouts on the season and a 0.39 goals against average going into the final weekend of the year. Rounding out our all-conference selections were second-team sophomore Laurie Knapp and third-team junior forward Kelsey Raschke. All of these players, with the exception of Wandy’s third-team selection a year ago, were making their first appearance on the all-conference team. Johnston, Wandy and Greene were also all named All-East Region selections as well.
Another great strength of the program was our depth, which was tested quite heavily in the latter half of the season. Senior forward Jori Semrau went down with an injury in early October as well as starting sophomore center back, Patricia Galan, a week later. This provided more opportunities for Kelsey and Leah, which they took full advantage of, while moving senior Karlee McCorry back into the starting lineup after an injury had slowed her in the early part of the season.
Karlee stepped in and helped lead our team to five shutouts in six games (5-0-1 record) and our second SUNYAC title in six years. McCorry was named to the SUNYAC All-Tournament team and ended up scoring the deciding penalty kick in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, which allowed us to advance the farthest in the tournament in 20 years!
And what an exciting first-round game against Frostburg! Down, 3-0, only 13 minutes into the match, our team showed what they are truly made of by getting the score back to 3-2 within eight minutes. With under five minutes left in regulation, Laurie found a way to keep the ball inbounds and connected with Emily Green for a phenomenal goal to tie the match and ultimately lead to the dramatic advancement on penalty kicks.
In the second round, we faced a John Hopkins team that went on to play in the national semifinals following their win over us, but senior Erin Froehlich scored an amazing goal with 10 minutes left in the game that she and the team can definitely celebrate as a crowning moment.
This was certainly a season to remember, but also one to build on for next year as we only graduate four seniors. Thanks for all your support – we look forward to seeing you again next season!