The Swarthmore women’s soccer team advanced past Muhlenberg in their first Centennial Conference tournament game, defeating the Mules 1-0 to advance to take on Gettysburg in Saturday’s semifinal. Hannah Lichtenstein ’17’s 37th minute goal was all the Garnet needed, as the defense was impenetrable as usual.
The win came on the heels of an emotional Saturday match against Haverford.
This past week proved to be ideal for the Swarthmore women’s soccer team. The Garnet rose to the occasion and beat Haverford (11-6, CC 6-4) on Saturday. A few degrees colder and the rain might have been snow, but conditions and expectations did not prevent the team from marking its presence in the Centennial Conference with a bid to the playoffs.
Most of the action took place in the first half, with both goals scored by Emma Sindelar ’15. The first goal was assisted by Miranda Saldivar ’17, and the second by Lichtenstein.
The Garnet held the momentum for most of the game. Haverford pressed on a few occasions late in the second half, but Swarthmore held their ground and finished the day with a victory.
Saldivar commented, “Going into the Haverford game, I honestly just wanted to beat them so badly. Last year, we lost to them 1-0. There was an unlucky goal at the end of the game.”
The expectations going into this game were mostly self-inflicted by the players. Head Coach Todd Anckaitis tried to minimize the stakes to reduce the pressure on his players. “I told them to go out, have fun, and just play for each other,” he said.
With all the excitement of a playoff birth, it is important not to overlook that Saturday was also Senior Day, making the end of the game was doubly special.
Unfortunately, the weather was not in a party mood. The icy rain and almost freezing temperatures did not faze the players as they huddled together and celebrated with each other shortly after the game ended.
Mele Johnson ’17 said, “We were playing for our seniors. It was their last conference game. It feels good to know that they will go out with a win. Emma went out with two goals and that was awesome.”
In terms of what can happen on Senior Day, it does not get much better than winning a bid to the conference playoffs. When describing the significance of Senior Day, Anckaitis said, “In terms of importance of the game, the way we played, and how all our seniors contributed, it’s up there.”
This team has come together at all grade levels to accomplish their successful run thus far with help from the current freshman class. Lichtenstein commented, “We have a really strong freshman class. They bring a lot of different qualities to the team.” In terms of projecting for the future Lichtenstein remarked, “I am excited to see how [the freshmen] grow and continue to contribute.”
Johnson acknowledged the visible positivity of the freshman class, saying, “The one big thing about the freshman class is that they have so much enthusiasm and so much energy. They just bring us up. They make us feel good and makes us laugh.”
Sometimes hearing about the strengths of a class can be slightly different when heard from another freshman. Katie Dougherty ’18 explained, “I was really impressed when meeting everyone to see all the skills each person had.” As it heads further into the difficult Centennial Conference playoffs, this team hopes to feed off that overflowing positivity.
In the two days before the Muhlenberg game, the team hoped to accomplish a few things. Speaking earlier this week, Saldivar commented, “These next two practices we need to be really competitive, really focused, and to think about this next game on Wednesday, because it is really important and we need to get this win.”
This team believes that they can make a run this year for the Conference championship and that the positivity brought by the freshman class may carry them forward. Saldivar remarked, “Our team is capable of doing so much this year. We have so much talent, and our heart and hard work have been greater than ever.”
The Garnet got revenge on Wednesday against Muhlenberg, as they had lost their previous game against the Mules earlier this season on a controversial late-game goal. This team has performed tremendously this season so far, but the real intensity has just begun.