The women’s soccer team has been clicking on all cylinders this season, maintaining its spot atop the Empire 8 Conference. But the sophomores have been the anchors of this year’s squad, stepping up in key moments and improving on their plays from last season.
Of the 10 sophomores on this year’s roster, only five saw any starting time last season, and only four recorded at least one goal. Sophomore forwards Ellyn Grant-Keane and Jackie Rodabaugh, as well as sophomore back Meredith Jones, were the only three who saw significant playing time last season. Rodabaugh was second on the team in goals with seven and Grant-Keane led the team in assists with nine.
Rodabaugh said the transition to the college level required her to play a more up-tempo style.
“Playing any collegiate sport is a huge eye-opener for anyone,” she said. “It takes adjusting very quickly to a new speed and style of play.”
One of the surprises to come from the team’s sophomore class has been midfielder Amanda Callanan. Callanan came off the bench in all but one game last season and took 17 shots, eight of which were on goal. She was unable to register any points though.
Callanan has carried over her aggressiveness to this season and is second on the team in goals and points with six and 12, respectively.
Callanan said her chemistry with her teammates has improved since last year, which has led to her two multi-goal games this season.
“I am able to be an impact player by being more confident on and off the ball and communicating with my teammates,” she said.
As a result of the sophomores’ impressive performances, the offense has been more balanced. Junior forward Rachael Palladino remains the team’s leading scorer with nine, but the sophomores have combined to score 15 out of the Blue and Gold’s 31 goals this season. Sophomore defender Anna Gray are stepping up in her place to score. Gray recorded two of her three goals this season in a game against SUNY-Cortland on Sept. 20 to solidify a 3-0 shutout.
Rodabaugh said the balanced scoring is a result of the sophomores taking more initiative than last season.
“Our team has a slightly different dynamic in that we have great depth and players that are willing and able to step up,” she said.
With a deep roster full of young and talented players, the Blue and Gold are currently ranked second in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s East
Jones said the South Hill squad is always looking to improve, regardless of its record.
“We don’t usually compare ourselves to our opponents,” she said. “We critique our play and our mistakes, learn from and work on them during practice.”