Even after storming through the WIAC tournament all the way to the championship and losing by only one goal, the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point soccer team will not get to play in the NCAA tournament.
The Pointers finished the season with a 13-6-1 record, which was not enough to make it into the field for the tournament.
“I think that we deserved a spot in the NCAA tournament. I was very surprised,” said head coach Megan Schmidt. “If you’re not on the committee, then there isn’t much you can do about it.”
“The journey meant a lot to our players,” Schmidt said. “We wanted to show everyone we were as good as we thought we were.”
The season may have ended on a sour note, but there are a lot of positives to look back on in Schmidt’s first season as head coach.
“I always had high expectations for this team,” Schmidt said. “I knew what they were capable of. The expectations from others for us were not so high, and it was good to kind of prove them wrong.”
The team this year was led by a strong group of upperclassmen. According to Schmidt, he team wouldn’t have gone anywhere without them.
“The senior leadership and their willingness to rise up was huge for this team,” Schmidt said. “Our players did a great job of taking constructive criticism and improving from that information.”
The team will lose some key pieces of their roster next season. Seven seniors are set to graduate, including the Pointers’ top five goal scorers: Angela Gallow, Jessica Ruch, Kim Jobke, Sammy Greer, and Kelsey Majerus.
The team will go on without its key players and replace them with some talent that is not quite as well-known said Coach Schmidt.
“The underclassman are excited because they have opportunities, but they are also nervous because we lost a lot of our starters and leaders,” Schmidt said. “They have to understand that they have played against some great competition in practice to prepare them for playing at a high level in real game situations.”
The Pointers will retain standout freshman goalie, Kristen Churkey, who was phenomenal in her first season at UWSP, tallying 66 saves and four shutouts.
The teams leading returning goal-scorer will be freshman Sarah Meylor, who had two goals and an assist during the season.
Members of the bench from this year’s team will also play a big role. “We had a very strong bench this season, as they will help us in the upcoming years,” said Schmidt.
It may look like an uphill climb for the Pointers next season, with limited experience and little known about the team’s in-game talent level, but Schmidt maintains a positive outlook.
“The girls returning are just strong players and have been itching to get a shot to play,” Schmidt said.