The women’s soccer team has its last chance this year to earn an Ivy League win this weekend when Columbia visits Berman Field. Currently on an eight-game losing streak, the Red (4-11-0, 0-6-0 Ivy) has certainly struggled to this point.
If the team’s competitive nature doesn’t already provide enough motivation to perform well on Saturday, seniors Leslie Campbell, Mariye Wick, Jill Tirabassi, Kara Lewis, Molly Easterlin, Jen Case and Jackie Stromberg have an additional source of inspiration — it will be the final game of their collegiate soccer careers.
“It’s hard not to think that it’s your last game, but it’s important to approach it like you do every game,” Campbell said. “We need to make sure that we leave everything on the field and a play a good game.”
Campbell, a defender from Sacramento, Calif., has been a fixture on the Red’s back line over the past four years. She has started every game while she’s been here, earning second-team All-Ivy recognition as a sophomore and a junior. She is one of the team’s captains, along with Wick and Lewis.
First-year head coach Danielle LaRoche does not underestimate the influence the captains have had on the team.
“One of the things that some of the girls have been saying is that it’s really sad because they don’t know what they’re going to do without the seniors and the captains, in particular,” LaRoche said. “They’ve really kept the team calm and collected over the season — after early losses to Yale and Brown — and brought them back to the point that we’re playing well.”
Wick, like Campbell, is a team captain and three-time letter-winner. The Bellevue, Wash., native has also been a mainstay in the Red’s lineup, and is coming off a game in which she scored her first goal of the year. Wick is tied for third on the team in points, and has notched 20 shots on goal this year.
Hailing from Chittenango, N.Y., Tirabassi joined Campbell on the back line over the past two seasons. The tandem has provided stability in the final third of the field, and worked hard to ease freshman goalkeeper Jodi Palmer’s transition into Division I soccer.
“We’ve played together a lot,” Campbell said of her relationship with Tirabassi. “It’s important that we get along off the field and trust each other completely, because it helps to understand how each other thinks on the field.”
Lewis, a midfielder from Clarksville, Md., has also been an important contributor as a captain for the Red. After a disappointing sophomore year that she spent primarily recovering from injury, Lewis bounced back to appear in ten games as a junior. This year, she is tied for third on the team in points, assisting Wick’s goal at Dartmouth last weekend.
Easterlin has not yet tallied a point this year, but has seen action in nine games. A defender and midfielder from Pasadena, Calif., Easterlin has come off the bench in her four years to provide a spark in the program’s development.
Also from the west coast, Case has struggled in a battle with stress fractures to both of her feet. Case enjoyed a promising freshman year, during which she appeared in 11 games. She missed her entire sophomore season due to injury, and in appeared in just one game as a junior. Case has been both extremely resilient and loyal to the program fighting her way back from injury to play in two games this year.
Stromberg, from Columbia, Md., also had a successful freshman campaign, starting seven games and playing in 16. The forward scored one goal and had an assist during that season. Since freshman year, Stromberg has come off the bench to provide another shooter for the team.
LaRoche was impressed with the devotion Easterlin, Case and Stromberg have shown to the program, despite not seeing as much playing time as they would have liked.
“You take a girl like Easterlin, who played more previously to my arrival,” LaRoche said. “This year, she struggled with illness and didn’t play as much as before. Regardless of that, she still came to practice and trained hard every single day, setting a great example for the underclassmen,” LaRoche said.
Even though she has only coached these players for one season, LaRoche had glowing reviews for all of her seniors — both on and off the field.
“It’s funny,” LaRoche said. “I didn’t recruit any of these girls, and most of them I didn’t meet until August 20th — but there’s no way I am going to get through Saturday without a cry. They’ve got to be a pretty exceptional group of girls for me to have only known them since August and be this attached to them.”