Women’s Soccer sets goals high for 2014

(Left to Right): Melissa Smith, Maggie Boehler

BRADFORD, Pa. - The 2014 Pitt-Bradford Women’s Soccer team will be hearing day in and day out the same phrase – Make It Uncomfortable. Make it uncomfortable for the other team to play on game day, and make it uncomfortable for our own team at all times in training.

 “Anybody can play when they have plenty of time on the ball and are only under moderate pressure,” says Head Coach Mike Idland. “But that won’t get the job done against the top opponents. When you pile on the pressure and the players force each other to make sound decisions and execute cleanly with very little time, that’s when you begin to push the limits of what each player – and the team collectively – can do.”

Pitt-Bradford will have to push their limits if they are to improve upon a series of highly successful, record-breaking seasons, the last two of which saw the Lady Panthers advance to the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference tournament final, only to lose narrowly by one goal on each occasion. “Those have been two tough pills to swallow for all of us,” Idland admits, “but I’d like to think that experience, along with our challenging non-conference schedule, will prepare us that much more to take the next step as a program.”

Among those non-conference opponents are the defending national champions William Smith College, NCAA tournament regulars Allegheny College, SUNYAC contenders Buffalo State College, and newly added St. John Fisher College. Idland feels, “the schedule will definitely ask plenty of questions about our quality of play, our discipline, and our mental toughness – and that is the main idea, to push the limits, to make it uncomfortable and see what we’re all about.”

One thing this team has been about lately is scoring goals. This year’s team is mouthwatering up top, where Pitt-Bradford returns AMCC prodigy Melissa Smith, whose debut season saw her amass a staggering 26 goals (tied for 5th in the nation) and capture both the 2013 AMCC Offensive Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year awards along with first team All-AMCC honors.

The sophomore striker will play alongside the conference’s second-most prolific goal-scorer, junior Maggie Boehler.  Amazingly, in her freshman season, Boehler was also voted both the 2012 AMCC Co-Offensive Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year. Boehler actually improved significantly on that historic season in 2013, registering 17 goals and 7 assists and earning her second consecutive first team All-AMCC spot. Idland comments on the sophomore-junior pairing: “To have two pure goal-scorers of such high quality playing together is really something special. It won’t last forever, but while we have them both here, it’s the kind of thing that sometimes you just have to step back and enjoy; it puts a smile on my face every single time they step on the field together.”  

Far from a two-woman show, Pitt-Bradford will field a very well-balanced and experienced team in every area of the field. “This is easily the most complete and most ready team we have had since I have been at Pitt-Bradford. Whether it’s in the goal, the back line, the midfield, or up front, we are fortunate enough to put several all-conference veterans in key positions alongside players who will undoubtedly be joining those ranks once they get out of the blocks for their college careers.” Indeed, Tess Follman, Casey Schimpf, Jamie Christensen and Sarah Turner are all projected to be in the starting lineup and each of them has at least one all-conference season under her belt already. 

Idland, who embarks on his seventh season in charge, has characterized the incoming 2014 recruiting class as his most well-rounded class so far. He explains, “Each of these young players will add significant quality to the team on the field. Equally important, every one of them is a genuinely good person with strong character: they will definitely enrich our evolving team culture.”

While the season is sure to have its ups and downs, this edition of the Pitt-Bradford Women’s Soccer team is poised to cement its place in school history and become the first to win the AMCC women’s Soccer title and begin the challenge of carving out a national presence for itself. Let’s hope they make it uncomfortable every step of the way.