By Garth Shanklin
The 2015 season for the Goshen Lady Warriors soccer team wasn’t exactly one to remember.
The team posted a 3-13-1 record and did not record a victory in the Southern Buckeye Academic and Athletic Conference, though they did tie Batavia.
Blowout losses were a common theme in 2015, as the squad lost games by scores of 7-1, 9-0 and 5-0. At one point in the season, the team lost four consecutive games by a combined score of 29-0.
Even still, there were highlights. The Lady Warriors recorded a few blowouts of their own, defeating Williamsburg 4-1 and Felicity 6-0. Head coach Kelsey Gaffney said the team’s inconsistency could be traced back to a lack of effort at times.
“Last season was disappointing because we had the talent to be a great team, but the effort was not always there,” Gaffney said. “The past few years, the program has been treated as more of a rec league, so it was hard to get the entire team to buy into becoming more competitive and adopting a winning mentality.”
The team lost eight seniors from last season, but gained 10 new players this year, including eight freshman. Gaffney said some of the freshman will sit a year and develop but a few of them could see important action immediately.
“For a handful of them, this will be a developing year to get them up to speed with the rest of the team,” Gaffney said. “Three of the freshman, Bree Wallace, Madi Arnett, and Kenzie Wilson, could play a key role in the teams success as long as they continue to work hard each day and to improve some of their skills.”
Two players for the Lady Warriors this season who performed well in 2015 are on the team in 2016 as well. Sophomores Erin Ashley and Paige Garr earned first and second team all-conference honors, respectively, last season. Gaffney said she expects more out of the duo this year.
“I had heard about both [Ashley's] and [Garr's] athleticism and work ethic before they joined the team, so I was not surprised by their performances last season,” Gaffney said. “I, of course, expect more out of them this year both on and off the field. They have such strong mentalities and potential to grow that it would be a disservice to them if I didn’t expect a stronger season. Both of them have also emerged as strong leaders and role models for the team.”
Several players are primed for breakout seasons, according to their coach. Courtney Nichols missed part of last season due to an ACL tear, but she’s rebounded nicely so far this year.
“She has jumped into her senior season stronger than before and has already shown great energy and effort on the pitch,” Gaffney said. “Brandy Rahm is also a senior this year, and she has always been an important part of the team. This season, however, it’s obvious she has higher expectations for her teammates and gives her best effort day in and day out.”
Junior goalkeeper Kaylin Kaltenbach is another player Gaffney believes will get better, along with Whitney Turey.
“[Kaltenbach] has continued to get better each year and I have higher expectations for her this season,”’ Gaffney said. “Turner, a returning sophomore, is a great athlete who has really stepped up for her team already this year. She’s emerged as a leader for the team with a great drive, which the rest of the team should follow if they hope to be successful.”
The team expects to have a much better year in 2016, and Gaffney says they’ll be able to accomplish that as long as they continue to give it their all.
“Our biggest goal this year is to have a winning season, and it’s definitely doable,” Gaffney said. “Last year there were a large number of games that we should’ve won, but we couldn’t put the pieces together. If we play to our potential and give 100 percent in each game, we can achieve our goal.”
The Lady Warriors started the 2016 season with a road contest at Western Brown on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
After another road tilt at Batavia on Aug. 25, the team will host Amelia at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30 in their home opener.