This fall, Swarthmore women’s soccer enters their season ranked fourteenth in the nation following last year’s NCAA tournament run to the Sweet Sixteen and Centennial Conference title. After graduating five seniors, the team welcomed twelve first years to the roster and are looking forward to another fruitful season.
Last season Swarthmore tallied 54 goals in 22 games. So far, the team has already scored seven after their games against TCNJ and Eastern Connecticut. Four of these seven were scored by forward Kim Kockenmeister ’22, who won player of the week after tying the Centennial Conference record for most goals in a single game.
Midfielder Grace Taylor ’21 is proud of her team and the work the players have committed during the off season. “I think that the freshmen have added a lot of talent to the team and the sophomores have really stepped up this season,” Taylor said. “I’m really looking forward to spending another year with them.”
Coach Todd Anckaitis seconded Taylor’s thoughts. “My sophomores are making that transition nicely from their first year through spring to the start of their second season,” said Anckaitis. “The spring season really helps the first years and sophomores to find and solidify their roles on the team and improve individually to feel comfortable and confident at the college level. I really like how they’ve come along.”
The team already has several returning players with All-Conference and All-Region accolades. Last year, Sydney Covitz ’20 was nominated for the All-Mid-Atlantic Region second team, the Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area team, and Centennial Conference first team. Brittanny Weiderhold ’20 was a Centennial Conference honorable mention.
The team is led by captains Seneca Kinn-Gurzo ’20, Brittney Weiderhold ’20, Emma Tapp ’20, and Sydney Covitz ’20. They hope to follow in the footsteps of last year’s dynamic duo of captains, First Team All-American Marin McCoy ’19 and Second Team All-Mid-Atlantic Region Yasmeen Namazie ’19.
Weiderhold ’20 strives to be a good leader and strong support system for her teammates like McCoy ’19 and Namazie ’19. “If I can contribute in any way in making this group a cohesive, tight, and on point group, then I think I can end my career on a high note,” she says.
Weiderhold ’20 hopes to win the conference for a third consecutive year and then go for the program’s first ever national championship. “It all starts with how we play in practice, so we’ve been trying really hard to stay focused as well as on point during our practices, which is especially important with school just starting up,” she said.
So far, the first-year class has already contributed to the success of the program. The healthy players have all seen the pitch and have even gotten on the scoresheet. “They have shown a lot of promise for the future of the program,” Anckaitis said. “They’ve got a ways to go but they’ve found a good starting point.”
First-year outside back Rebecca Putnam ’23 was impressed with how close the team is and how hard everyone works at practice. “I’m most excited to become a part of such a strong group of women and players,” she says.
Fellow first years Ana Michels ’23 and Anwyn Urquhart ’23 haven’t seen the pitch due to knee injuries, but they play an important role in supporting their teammates from the sideline. “Anwyn and I are trying our best to reciprocate all the support we’ve received,” Michels says. “Already we’ve both lost our voices from screaming in practice and in the weight room.”
The transition from high school to Division III soccer can be quite intimidating. First year Alice Onyango-Opiyo ’23 has eased through this transition, and has already played 71 minutes, the most of any freshman. “The biggest adjustment was learning how to fit into the dynamic of a large, already established team,” Onyango-Opiyo ’23 says.
The team is now out of preseason and has started the season with three wins so far. The Garnet host Stevens this Friday at 7 p.m. at Clothier fields as they look forward to the rest of the season and continuing their success this year. “In my past years here, I’ve never been on a team with this much depth,” Weiderhold ’20 says. “I am so confident in every single one of these players and I am so happy I get to play alongside them and eventually, end my collegiate career with them. It’s a privilege I get to have working with these spectacular ladies!”