Women’s soccer ends final season in SoCon

Photo by: Ryan Woodham

Hayden Boudreaux

The final Southern Conference season has ended for the Georgia Southern University women’s soccer team.

After multiple injuries and disappointing losses, the Eagles finished ninth in the SoCon.

It was a somber goodbye for the Eagles after they lost three straight games at the end of the season to eliminate themselves from tournament play. They will now bring their talents into the Sun Belt Conference to play against 10 other teams and take another shot at a NCAA tournament bid.

The season was plagued with injuries, specifically in goal, which sidelined four separate players including 2012 SoCon player of the year senior Katie Merson. There is a potential position battle in goal this offseason between junior Molly Williams and sophomore Heather Kirkover. Kirkover started the first half of the season before a head injury allowed Williams to walk on to the team and start the rest of the season.

Experience will be an advantage for the Eagles. Eight starters will return next season, including leading scorer sophomore forward Nora El-Shami and walk-on junior goalkeeper Molly Williams. Some of the younger players will have a chance to build on the playtime they got this season such as freshmen forwards Jennifer Wittick and Taylor Burns, who combined for four goals.

There are several key seniors that helped the Eagles gain the prestige required to enter the Sun Belt. Among the players leaving are forward Alex Murphy, who scored four goals on the season and two assists, and defenders Sydney Keer and Mckenna Storey. The midfield will lose the assistance given by Lindsay Hammer and Emily Archer.

Statistically, the Eagles stack up with the current members of the Sun Belt. They have scored 21 goals this season which is better than five Sun Belt schools, but under the 29.4 average. However, on defense GSU allowed 32 goals, which was only better than one team in the future conference.

Despite that, these statistics do not reflect difference in the level of competition between the SoCon and the Sun Belt. They do show that the Eagles will have their work cut out for them this offseason.

Rival Appalachian State University is also leaving for the Sun Belt Conference. In addition to the Mountaineers, GSU will have the opportunity to take on in-state opponent Georgia State University in Atlanta. This could be the first of many new rivalries the Sun Belt will offer.