Freshman class provides boost for women’s soccer

By Steve Shonder

The youth movement is on for women’s soccer as its freshman class has given the Huskies a jolt of energy.

The Huskies have gotten some big contributions from their 10-strong freshman class. Freshmen Lauren Gierman, Amy Annala and Marisa Knott are key starters in the final stretch of the season. But, they aren’t the only freshmen who have seen big playing time: Natalia Pena started 13 games on defense before a wrist injury sent her to the sidelines, while freshman Allie Ingham has appeared in all 18 games.

It’s been a team effort to get the players up to speed, and head coach John Ross has been impressed with how well they’ve adjusted to the collegiate level.

“They’ve been great this whole year,” Ross said. “A lot of them are starting. A lot of them are getting playing time; some of them are injured but are helping out in other ways. It’s a good freshman class. I think also the upperclassmen have steered them in the right direction on work rate [and] doing the right things, and that’s really helped, as well.”

Freshmen are responsible for seven of the Huskies’ 21 goals and 10 of the team’s 20 assists. This production has helped keep the offense rolling.

“I just think the adrenaline of being a first-year [player] has really helped us,” Knott said. “I think that us freshmen are … [getting] along really well, so that shows on the field. So, when we’re all in we connect.”

The Huskies have gone through several injury-plagued stretches that were made easier with the depth on the roster. With several starters going down, Ross said the freshmen were able to fill those roles easily and produce in a big way.

“There’s some speed there. There’s some savvy there already,” Ross said. “A couple of the players are really dangerous, and if left alone they’re going to hurt teams. I think we saw that [Friday]. Marisa had a great cross in; I believe she got the corner, as well. She’s dangerous when she gets going. Gierman had quite [a] few chances as well. There [are] a lot of players that are contributing.”

The newcomers have also aided one of the MAC’s best defenses. Pena’s play on the veteran backline helped lock down opposing attacks, and Annala has anchored the defense in goal.

After the best start to MAC play in the program’s history, the Huskies have a solid building block for next season and are well set up to do even better as the freshman class gains more experience.

“It definitely shows [Ross] and the other coaches the potential that we have and where we can play and who can play with who best,” Gierman said. “I think it definitely sets [us] up for next year to work with the incoming freshmen. We know how to play. We’re used to the speed of play and just all around on the field.”