Women’s soccer wraps up fall season

Bradley Piros, Sports Editor

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The Western Illinois University women’s soccer team wrapped up their 2019 season after suffering a 2-0 loss on the road against the South Dakota University Coyotes. After a season with its highs and lows, the Leathernecks finished with a record of 6-11-1. Let’s see how they got there, who helped along the way and what to expect next season.

It looked like it was going to be a great season from the two exhibition games. Western hosted Southeastern Community College and Quincy winning by scores of 5-0 and 2-0, respectively. Then, they opened their regular season against Missouri State at home in a 2-1 comeback win after going down 1-0 in the second minute. Sophomore forward Amy Andrews opened her account to tie the game and junior midfielder Bridget Schuler scored the game-winner halfway through the second half.

Western followed that outing with a 0-0 tie against IUPUI and a 3-1 loss to the University of Missouri – Kansas City Kangaroos. The Leathernecks were able to bounce back and did so against the University of Illinois at Chicago in a 2-1 win; Andrews scored both goals that game.

After a quality win at home, Western went on a four-game losing streak to four very good teams. They were shutout in four straight by Northern Illinois (1-0), Milwaukee (3-0), Illinois State (1-0) and Drake (1-0).

After a rough stretch of really tough games, the Leathernecks were able to turn themselves around and go on a four-game winning streak. It began against Northern Iowa on Sept. 22. Western beat UNI 3-2 with goals scored by junior midfielder Jenna Lundgren, sophomore defender Zoe Clarke and once again, Andrews.

Western kept things rolling when they took on Chicago State and won narrowly 1-0; Andrews scored the lone goal in the 59th minute. Western then opened up Summit League play at home against Omaha and won 1-0. Lundgren buried a penalty kick in the 38th minute and that was enough to make a difference in a well earned 1-0 victory. The Leathernecks were off to a perfect 2-0 start in The Summit League after a 2-0 win against Purdue Fort Wayne at home. Clarke took the lead in the 55th minute off a direct free kick and junior forward Lauryn Peters doubled that lead only four minutes later.

At that point in the season, the Leathernecks were 6-5-1 and 2-0 in conference. They were looking pretty good and bound for a Summit League Tournament appearance. That was not the case, however, as the team derailed a little bit and ended the season on a six-game losing streak, all against Summit League opponents. Five of those games were shutouts, and it just goes to show that The Summit League is no joke. Western missed out on the tournament again, with their last appearance in it being in 2012.

The Leathernecks shouldn’t beat themselves up because there were still plenty of good times along the way. All good things must come to an end though, and this season it ended for six seniors: Ines Palmiero Herrera, Natalie Sielaff, Emily Bollman, Maddie Wilsey, Madison Bulin and Kayla McCormick.

With those departures, it leaves a big hole in Westerns defense, especially at goalkeeper. Palmiero Herrera totaled more than 1600 minutes in goal throughout her 18 starts and made 81 saves. She was named Summit League Defensive Player of the Week for the second time in her collegiate career, continued to set program records and climbed the rankings in the career saves department throughout program history.

Sielaff, Wilsey, Bulin and McCormick were all key players in Western’s defense over the last four years and they will be missed as well.

The same can be said for the only offensive piece leaving, that being Bollman. She finished her collegiate career with nine goals and four assists, good for 22 points. She took 70 shots over the years, 32 of them being on goal.

Western will severely miss these players, but they have the talent that’s going to step up and continue to produce as well as some unfamiliar faces that will have some big shoes to fill.

The team will still have the duo of Clarke and Andrews out of Birmingham, England who teamed up for eight goals and two assists on the season. Or the pairing out of Yakima, Wash. of Lauryn Peters and Natalie Nagle who control the midfield at all times and always lend a helping hand.

Expect to see two sisters seeing more time next year, that being Lynette and Elainya Hawkins. Lynette made 17 starts in the defense and played a huge role, totaling nearly 1500 minutes while her sister appeared in nine games for 211 minutes. On the other side of the field will be Carolina Gomes who should see more playing time after scoring a goal and appearing in 13 matches.

The Leathernecks have plenty to look forward to, and it’s definitely not going to be a rebuilding year. The pieces are all going to be there still, or at least most of them. It will be up to the team to put it all together and get back to The Summit League Tournament. It’ll be a long offseason, but the team should be proud of themselves and optimistic of what is yet to come.

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