The fruit of dedication to God and team, the Franciscan University women’s soccer team made program history by playing their first-ever AMCC championship game and earning a spot in the ECAC tournament.
“It’s a confirmation that if we continue to push, and to work hard and to praise the Lord in the way we play, good things will come,” said head coach Clare McBane of the Lady Barons’ successful season. “At the end of the day, if we are working on playing to the best of our ability, glorifying the Lord in what we do, we’ll see the fruits of some of those labors.”
The Lady Barons played a tight game against Penn St.-Behrend during the AMCC championship game on Nov. 4. Tied 2-2 for most of the second half, junior Sarah Luebking blocked the Lions with a series of incredible saves. In the final 10 minutes, with only 2:12 left to play, the Lions scored their final goal, finishing the game 3-2. This came after winning the quarterfinal match 4-3 against Pitt.-Greensburg and the semifinal match 4-1 against Mt. Aloysius.
“Our team really came together this year and we were all on the same page, and because of that we were able to get as far as we did,” said senior Clare Kennedy, who plays midfielder and forward. “And it’s hard to lose at the end, but the fact that we even made it that far … is a pretty big deal.”
After finishing the season 10-9, Franciscan earned the No. 4 seed in Pod 3 of the ECAC tournament. Playing in the first game of the day on Nov. 11 at Frostburg State, the Lady Barons went up against the No. 1 seeded Grove City (15-5).
McBane said that beginning the season, a major goal was to develop the chemistry of the team. The team was almost half returning players and half freshmen. Because of this, McBane said that it was important to develop a good rhythm and create a strong team dynamic.
Kennedy said that returning players worked to welcome new players and build camaraderie. She said, “In a team sport like soccer, serving your teammates is a way of glorifying God.”
This desire to serve God and teammates motivated Kennedy to play to the best of her ability, she said. Offering up practice for her teammates’ intentions was one way she strove to give back to God the glory for the gifts He gave her, she said.
“Coach Clare reminded us that we were there to glorify God, and we’d like a victory after all the hard work we put in, but to show the other team the love of Christ was most important,” said Kennedy.
“Each one of those victories was a little taste of heaven,” said McBane. “The girls have worked hard for this. It’s been a gradual, step-by-step process, and they’re not done yet … there’s a hunger in this team and a desire in this team that’s going to push them to even greater things.”