Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
The Swarthmore Women’s soccer team has had perhaps its greatest season ever in school history this year. Led by Captains Rehana Omardeen ’15, Ellen Bachmannhuff ’15 and Julia Murphy ’15, the team has earned a 13-6-1 record so far this season, significantly improving upon last year’s 10-6-2 record. Bolstered by excellent recruits from class of 2018, the Women’s soccer team has been able to take down some of the best teams in the country.
After easily taking down rival Haverford on Garnet Weekend, the Women’s Soccer team looked forward to redemption after being unable to qualify for the conference championship last year. The first game was against Muhlenberg College, which the team won with relative ease.
The next game, however, was against Gettysburg College, a team ranked 19th in country. It was a go-big-or-go-home situation, and the team was able to sail past Gettysburg with a final score of 2-0, with goals from Emma Sindelar ’15 and Mele Johnson ’17. After a long 8 years, the Women’s soccer team finally got another shot at winning the Conference Championship. Their opponent, Johns Hopkins, ranked 22nd in the country, and was looking to win the Centennial Conference Championship for the 8th time in 9 years. They would be a tough opponent to say the least, but the Garnet was ready and determined. The upcoming game would be one of the most important games for the team in almost a decade.
The game against Johns Hopkins was a hard fought game with Swarthmore answering Johns Hopkins’ goals in both the first and second halves. Despite some opportunities for both teams to decide the match in regulation, the whistle finally blew and the score was at 2-2. The teams would have to play overtime.
After a score-less overtime, the teams had to go to penalty kicks (PK), perhaps the most riveting and dramatic way to end any match, let alone the Conference championship game. After a full 110 minutes of play, both teams were undoubtedly tired, but one had to step up in this pressure packed finale in which a berth into the NCAA tournament was on the line.
After 6 PK’s from both teams, the score stood at 4-4. Claire O’Brien ’18 took Swarthmore’s 5th PK attempt.
“I did not know that my kick was going to be the last kick for our team until I was up, but I felt that my team would support me no matter what and I wanted to do what I could for the team. It definitely felt good to make the PK as scoring is always a positive.”, said O’Brien.
It came down to Johns Hopkins’ Vania Ludman to keep the penalty shootout going. Her attempt was saved by Swarthmore’s goalkeeper, Reba Magier ’16, and the team claimed victory of the Conference Championship for the first time ever in program history. The victory gave Swarthmore a berth into the NCAA tournament, with their first opponent being Connecticut College. Magier, who saved three of the total seven PK attempt by Johns Hopkins, was named MVP of the game.
O’Brien pointed out, “I have to give the glory to our keeper, Reba, who really was the star of the show in that shootout and made the last save of the day.”
Magier was ecstatic about receiving the honor: “It feels absolutely amazing. I am so honored to be MVP. To go into penalty kicks after 110 minutes of regulation play required that I stepped up to help my team win. I enjoy the pressure penalty kicks put on me and I am just happy that I was able contribute so much to the win.”
It seems that the team’s success has been largely dependent on a theme of unity that the team and coaches have put a great deal of emphasis on this season.
O’Brien said, “I also would like to point out that it is a team effort and had it not been for the inspiring singing, chanting, dancing, and other plays made by the entire team, I would not have been able to take and make that penalty kick. I am proud and honored to be chosen to take a kick as a freshman and to have scored it for the team under pressure…I am excited to play [Connecticut College] and I am looking forward to another day playing the game that I love with a team I love.”
Sindelar, who has set the career goals (34), career assists (17), and career points (85) record this year, and established herself as one of the influential players in program history, also echoed a similar sentiment: “We’ve focused a lot this season on positivity and really being a tight unit that builds each other up and is constantly there for each other. Our theme this year is ‘ubuntu’ which conveys the idea of ‘I am, because we are.’ We’ve really tried to embody that mindset in everything we’ve done this season.”
Magier also spoke of unity as a major factor in the team’s success this year: “The keys to my team’s great season has been how close the team is this year. When we step on that field, we are playing for each other not just ourselves. It is so important to play with a team where you respect and trust every single individual on the team.”
With team unity and chemistry as strong as ever, the Women’s Soccer Team looks forward to their first ever NCAA tournament. The team’s incredible performance this year is only a sign of even greater things to come. Sindelar said, “We are ready to prove to everyone that our team is one of the best. This weekend is just the beginning.”
Those wishing to attend the NCAA Championships on Saturday, November 15th can ride the fan bus to Montclair State University for Saturday’s game vs Connecticut College. The fan bus will depart the fieldhouse at 4:00pm and return immediately following the 7:30pm game. If Women’s Soccer wins Saturday’s game, Sunday’s fan bus will depart the fieldhouse at 2:00pm, for the 2nd round game at 5pm and return after the game. Please RSVP to Marian, mfahy1 by Noon, Friday, Nov. 14th, and indicate which day (or both) if you wish to reserve a seat and a free ticket.
Correction, 11/15/14: Claire O’Brien’s first name was initially misspelled.