Historic women’s soccer team leaves NCAA Tournament with heads high

Photo+Courtesy+Calvin+Sports+Information

Photo Courtesy Calvin Sports Information

Coming into the 2015 season, the women’s soccer team was predicted to finish fourth in the MIAA Conference. Instead, they finished the regular season as undefeated conference champions.

They took their 14-0-2 record into the conference tournament and shutout both of their opponents, cementing their season long dominance of the MIAA.

Amid light precipitation on November 13 the team defended home field in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They defeated Milwaukee School of Engineering 3-2 as Calvin shot a staggering 13 balls on goal.

The next day they returned to Zuidema Filed where they dominated Depauw University defensively. The Calvin defense only allowed one shot on goal.

In the third round of the NCAA Tournament Calvin traveled to Pittsburgh to face No. 5 ranked Carnegie Mellon University. The tough matchup for Calvin turned into one of the most exciting games of the season for Calvin. Junior Carly Veenstra scored at the 91:15 mark and the Knights ended up with the dramatic 1-0 overtime win.

The moment became a lasting memory for many players.

This gave Calvin their 21st win, the second most in team history, and a trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals which were also held in Pittsburgh.

The Knights fell short of the tournament finals after being defeated by Kentucky’s Centre College. It was the first loss for the team since early September and the end of an eventful season.

The 2015 season for women’s soccer could easily be documented through some Hollywood script, because it was full of inspiring moments and players.

Players like senior goalkeeper Holly Ellerbroek reveled in the victory of surprising everyone.

“To come from where the team was last year and end up in the Elite Eight this year was absolutely incredible,” said Ellerbroek. “No one thought that we were going to be good this year, and it was so awesome to be able to come out and prove so many people wrong by going so far into the tournament.”

Fellow senior and Academic All-American Taylor Ten Harmsel echoed this sentiment:

“Coming into the season we were picked to finish 4th in the conference, and we ended up finishing 1st in the conference and top 8 in the nation; that is something to be proud of.”

The remarkable season could not have happened without hard work and determination from every player.

“I was amazed at how every single girl, whether they saw the field or not, put forth so much effort and heart every day,” said Ten Harmsel. “I don’t think we would have made it as far as we did if it weren’t for every single person on our team believing and wanting to keep playing.”

Aside from all of the wins and statistics, the 2015 season was also a year of growth for many players. The team formed a bond that is unbroken and surpasses the number of goals scored or saved.

Ellerbroek is a senior who transferred to play her last year of eligibility at Calvin. Though the loss to Centre and thus the end of the season was tough, she explained that what mattered the most to her are the friends she made along the way.

Ten Harmsel and Ellerbroek are among seven other seniors who will be leaving the team. Others include goals and assists leader Paige Capel and two way player Sydney Kinney.

Whether it was defeating Hope in the MIAA Tournament, or shocking everyone in the tri-state area, the mark left by the 2015 women’s soccer won’t soon be forgotten.