With a fresh set of players, women’s soccer is slated to officially begin its long awaited season Thursday at Missouri.
A lot has changed within the program since the Bluejays last took to the pitch for an official NCAA competition more than 469 days ago.
This season, the team features a much younger yet larger group than previous seasons.
“Our biggest strength is our deep roster and the choices that I have of players to bring on at any moment,” coach Ross Paule said. “I feel like we have the deepest team that we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, depth will be especially beneficial to the team in a season that has many uncertainties.
With added depth, one thing’s certain for the program: The sole two seniors on this season’s roster, midfielder Keelie Fothergill and winger Juelle Love, will be looked upon by the team to step up as leaders.
“We have to be confident that although we are only two seniors, we can make a big difference, especially by encouraging the younger girls that they can be leaders too,” Love said.
Supporting the seniors in the midfield are the highlights of the incoming freshman class: Swiss U-19 international defender Nicole Tiller and two-time Iowa high school Gatorade player of the year midfielder Abigail Santana.
“Coming in as a freshman, my main priority is growth. I hope I can fit into a role that can help myself develop and help others around me develop as well,” Santana said.
Also stepping up this season and supporting the midfield is an improved back line of defenders. Paule notes this line features a group of maturing sophomores, including Anna Grassinger, Jordy Rothwell and Gabby Grimaldi.
Another blossoming sophomore is last year’s Big East freshman of the year and the Bluejays lone preseason All-Big East first-team member, Skylar Heinrich, who will pilot Creighton’s attack at forward.
With the season around the corner, the Bluejays are still getting game fit as a unit. This is a challenge they face this season because of the lengthy offseason.
“Making sure that we have that strong chemistry and are able to support each other is going to be really important. Now more than ever we have so many obstacles that we have to overcome,” Love said.
Paule, Love and Santana all identified a common goal for the team this season: fighting for both a regular season and postseason championship.
The Bluejays have never won a Big East Tournament title. Their most recent match was a 1-0 defeat to Villanova that eliminated them from tournament contention in 2019.
“We’ve gone through a lot of adversity and I’m just excited for them to get out there and play together, compete together, and fight for those goals,” Paule said.
They’ll start that fight next Thursday as the program finally kicks off the season following the cancellation of the original home opener set for tonight.