When the seniors of the women’s soccer team walk off the pitch this Saturday at the team’s final game, they will leave behind a team vastly different from the one they joined three years ago. Seniors Katie Thomas, Natalie Dew, Kelley Hess, Ann Hubert, Megan Healey, and co-captain Emily Wyffels have all made their mark on the program, and they will be sorely missed by their teammates and coaches.
“It’s always tough to see every senior group go, because we work hard to replace them in playing ability, but every year, it makes me wonder if we can replace that kind of commitment and spirit that these kids have shown me the last couple of year,” said head coach Berhane Andeberhan.
The Class of 2005 has been through a lot in its four years on East Hill. After a 4-8-3 campaign in 2001, the team reached the ECAC Finals in 2002 and traveled all the way to Oahu last season for a game against Hawaii. While the Red is going through a difficult season this year, the seniors have maintained a positive attitude throughout.
“Even though this has been a rough year, I think we all believe we have made a difference in changing the culture of the team, and we hope to see our teammates take it the rest of the way to being a truly great program,” Thomas said.
Thomas has been the team’s go-to goalkeeper since her freshmen year. After posting 104 saves as a rookie, Thomas recorded a 0.96 goals against average and six shutouts, and was an All-Ivy honorable mention selection as a sophomore. Although she was hampered by injury last year, Thomas returned healthy at the start of the 2004 season, and has split time in goal with sophomore Katrina Matlin.
Dew has been a mainstay in the back for several years. While usually playing at stopper, Dew was called upon at times to mark an opponent’s dangerous forward, often times volunteering for the job. She has also played at the defensive midfielder position, and last season was named to the All-Ivy second team.
“She relishes the task of defending. She’s a very intense and physical player,” Andeberhan said. “When she first came here, she got dirty looks from teammates in practice because she was so physically intense, and a lot of them were not used to it.”
Hess is one of the best technical players on the team and a student of the game. She has seen time at midfield throughout her playing career.
Hubert, a fullback, has been hampered by a foot injury during the last two years. While her injuries have limited her playing time during her career, she has worked hard to recover. “Through it all, she has been an amazing young lady, very courageous. She maintained a tremendous work ethic,” Andeberhan said. “Even though she didn’t play a lot, she has been an inspiration in many ways because for such little reward, Ann has been working hard, and we value her as a member of the team.”
Healey, who starred at Ithaca High School, transferred to Cornell from Stony Brook after her freshmen year and is a talented defensive midfielder.
“In high school, she played mostly in the center, but we have her playing on the wings. Right or left, she handled it very well, and her strength is her defensive presence,” Andeberhan said.
Wyffels has also battled injury during her time at Cornell, but has emerged as a leader this season, serving as one of the team’s four captains. She recently scored her first career goal against Buffalo, and is the Red’s best technical forward.
“In the spring and summer, she really took care of a lot of key things — team unity, helping the team prepare, captain’s practices,” Andeberhan said. “She is one of the people that you will hold as an example, whether she plays a lot or plays a little, she always maintains such a positive even keel. She’s a great person for freshmen to imitate.”
The seniors have played a role in mentoring the younger players on the team, an opportunity they have enjoyed. While their time at Cornell is almost over, the class of 2005 has helped the program grow into one that will be strong in the years to come.
“We came into the program as Berhane’s first recruiting class,” Thomas said. “Knowing that we were undertaking the challenge to rebuild the program. I know we all have given our hearts and souls to bringing this team to a different level than it was our freshmen year.”
Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach
Sun Staff Writer