By Haiden Widener, Campus Carrier Sports Editor
|CAMPUS CARRIER ARCHIVE|
The women’s soccer season comes to a close after a loss in the semifinals of the conference tournament. While the seniors are sad to be leaving, they have high hopes for next year’s team.
The Vikings ended their season with a 9-6-2 record. They made it to the SAA tournament semifinal, falling to Centre, 2-1.
Knowing that they were going up against a team that made it to the national final four last season, Head Coach Lorenzo Canalis was proud of the team’s play.
“We played well,” he said. “We gave them a run for their money.”
Senior Maggie Midkiff walked away knowing they gave it their all.
“We didn’t go as far as we wanted to,” she said. “But I think that we put up a good fight against Centre in the final game.”
Midkiff tore her ACL and meniscus last season, an injury that can, at worst, end careers and, at best, weakens their level of play. But through physical therapy and working with the Berry athletic training staff, she was able to recover and play to her full potential this season.
“I worked really hard because I knew I wanted to have a strong senior season,” she said. “Getting over mentally being scared about my knee was a big thing. But after the first couple of games I was pretty much back to normal.”
Her hard work paid off as she finished with 13 goals and two assists this season, five of which were game winners.
She credits much of her success over the last four years to her coaches and teammates.
“It’s been a huge family, and I think a big part of that is the coaches,” she said. “That’s the main reason I came to play here. I thought they were awesome people as well as coaches, which is huge.”
The team will lose four seniors this year. Canalis said he will miss the steadiness, dependability, commitment and talent of the group.
“It’s always hard from year to year,” he said. “You always lose quality people and quality players. But recruiting is an ongoing thing.”
Canalis said that this season was one of the most competitive schedules they’ve ever had. When they lost several starters due to injury early on, it made the competition even harder.
“We lost several starters and it wasn’t the usual nicks and bruises,” he said. “It was a concussion here or a swollen retina there.”
But with the addition of nine freshmen this year, they were able to step up and fill the empty spaces of injuries.
“The freshmen are a good group,” Canalis said. “They’re very committed. They all bring something different, and it’s all valued.”
Even with the loss of key players, the team still accomplished great things this season. Canalis hit a milestone of 300 wins during the team’s trip to California earlier in the season. The team was also able to explore the Redwood Forest on their trip, something they agreed was one of the best things about their season.
While their season was cut shorter than they wanted, Midkiff has confidence in the team for next season.
“I think there’s big potential for them,” she said. “They’ll have a lot of returners [next year] who are capable of taking it all the way.”
The team finished strong this season with seven players earning SAA All-Conference awards. Six of those players will return next season, so the expectations for are high.
“I feel strongly that we should’ve ended in the top two or three of the conference,” said Canalis. “So our goal remains the same: to compete for our conference championship every year.”