Seniors lead Green in soccer
When the season came to a close a week ago Sunday, the ball stopped rolling for the women's soccer team. The Big Green's final match, a hard-fought 1-0 loss to UConn marked the end of a dynasty and the beginning of a legacy. As freshmen, the '97 recruits set the a new standard in Big Green soccer. And from there, they just kept getting better.
Consider this. In four short years, the '97s established a "reign of terror" all their own. As rookies, they put the Big Green on the map with a dazzling unscored upon season which earned them the Ivy title and their first ever NCAA Tournament bid. Then, in their subsequent seasons, they would return twice more to that tournament of champions. It was a dream come true.
Then, last weekend, just like that, with the blow of a ref's whistle, it all came to a close. From the get go, excellence and consistency were the trademarks of the '97 recruits.
Here's a retrospective glimpse at the Big Green's star-studded senior squad -- who they are, what they've done, and a little about what they'll do in the years to come.
On the frontline, there was Jenna Kurowski and Melissa McBean -- a much-talked-about scoring duo who made opposing goalies cringe and crumble. Together, they tallied more goals during their four years than any other set of forwards in the East.
Behind them, two of their classmates prowled the midfield. Christina Hallenbeck, with her booming crosses, could always be counted on to crack a feed from the right flank. Then there was Cindy Goodwin on the left, who's fancy footwork could smoke even the best of defenders.
In the way back, the Big Green banked on a wall of three '97s to seal the keeper's box. There was the ever-so-speedy Camille Powell on the left side, who could burn down the field and chase down a ball lickity-split.
In the middle was Holly Thomas, a player with an urgency to just steal the ball and run with it -- even if it meant carrying the ball end to end. And who could forget the defender to the right, Andrea Lodzieski, who was always there to put the brakes on a blazing attacker.
Indeed, with their talent and depth, the '97s proved to the world that Dartmouth was no flash in the pan - that the Big Green was a tenacious powerhouse to be reckoned with year after year after year.
"Our class was the one that allowed Dartmouth to maintain the respect of the Division I soccer world that was previously earned by the class of '95," McBean said.
The '97 recruits joined the Big Green as seven, but they played as one. And that was perhaps their greatest strength.
"Playing for Dartmouth was an amazing experience," Kurowski said. "I wouldn't trade it for anything."
"It was so special because our team was amazing," Kate Andrews '96 said. "I don't mean amazing in the sense that we were great on the field, but more because we were great off the field."
"Actually playing the games only takes up about five percent of our time together, so thank God we had so much fun together. I'll remember the locker room chats, the bus rides, and the pre-seasons as much as most of our games."
McBean said, "Being together for so long allowed us to form stronger relationships with each other. And that made winning that made winning that much more special because we won and we played for each other."
"We definitely had our ups and downs," Thomas said, "but we had them together."
Alas, for this year's senior squad, soccer evolved into more than just a game. For some, soccer grew into the likes of a great teacher.
"I think [soccer] has taught me what true determination means," Thomas said. "If I didn't run my hardest in the summer, I was hurting the team not just myself."
Meg Owens '96 said, "Big Green soccer has taught me the true meaning of a team sport. The team depended on me, and I depended on the team."
Now that the green and white jerseys are now washed, dried, and back in storage for next season, it's time for the seniors to start thinking about the future.
"I can't imagine that any of us have left the field for the last time," Andrews said.
Several players, like Andrews and Kurowski plan to coach someday, while others like McBean and Owens expect to compete on the professional level in Europe next year.
As Kurowski said, "I can't imagine my life without soccer."
But in the end, Thomas said it best when she said, "I hope to stay in touch with the game in some form or another...I love the sport."
Indeed, they all love the sport.
Call them the playmakers. Call them the prodigies. Call them the senior squad from the 1996 women's soccer team.
Let's remember them as champions.