The Lawrence men’s and women’s soccer teams hosted Grinnell and Knox College this past Saturday in a fierce conference match up. An unfortunate loss to St. Norbert kept the Lady Vikings in seventh place going into the two games this weekend.A 3-1 loss against Grinnell and a huge 9-0 finish against Knox gave the Lady Vikings a 5-10-1 overall record for the season. They finished their season at seventh place in the conference.
Prior to this weekend’s competition, the men were seated fifth with a 3-3-1 record, amounting to 10 points. A tie and win was required of the Vikings in order to secure a place in the Midwest Conference Tournament.
A tough 2-0 loss to Grinnell on Saturday and a 3-2 win on Sunday against Knox College gave the Vikings a 4-4-1 overall record, keeping them in fifth place, just missing a conference tournament berth.
Both the men’s and women’s teams welcomed several freshmen to their rosters this season, which served to be an integral part of both teams success.
Both teams, however, must also say goodbye to some key players, as they graduate five seniors on the men’s side and two seniors on the women’s team.
For the men, Joe Sluhoski, Doug McEneany, Ryan Pikna, Nate Reynolds, and Ben Glover have contributed greatly to Lawrence’s soccer program over the past four years. Laurel Benson and Gretchen Shaffer have also provided depth to the women’s team.
Joe Sluhoski, a native of Rochester, Minn., finished the season among the top four players in the conference in points, shots, goals, and game winning goals. He was also in the top 10 for assists on the season.
At forward, Sluhoski was a big offensive threat. His quickness and agility helps him surge past defenders. Coach Elliott Spruell commented, “The progress and improvement that Joe has made in his four years here at Lawrence was second to no one. His constant high work rate and nose for the goal helped him develop into one of the best goal scorers in the Midwest Conference.”
Doug McEneany, a midfielder from Chicago, was one of three captains for this year’s squad. “McEneany, a great player on both sides of the ball, has truly been the heart and soul of the Lawrence team over the past couple years,” Spruell said.
“Watching Doug mature from a quiet freshmen to the leader of this team has been a real privilege. His contributions on and off the field will be greatly missed.” At midfield, McEneany had two goals and two assists this season.
Ryan Pikna, an outstanding defender from Wauwatosa, Wis., provided great depth in the back. Known for his “90 mph” kick, Pikna was a threat both offensively, with one goal and five assists, and defensively, with his aggressive play.
“Due to his size, speed, game intelligence, and exceptional technical skill, Ryan was asked to play every position except goalkeeper during his four years at Lawrence,” Spruell added.
“Just the fact that Ryan was not only able to adapt but to excel in any position we asked him to play says a lot about this young man and his dedication to the betterment of this team.”
Nate Reynolds, a native of Madison, Wis., returned to the field this year for a fifth season. His intensity and passion for the game is evident during every possession.
Coach Spruell commented, “Nate was truly the most intense and passionate player I have ever dealt with. His willingness to win is something you can’t teach as a coach. He was our field general game in and game out and with his last game comes a huge hole that must be filled for next year’s team.”
Ben Glover, all the way from Accra, Ghana, plays the forward/midfield position. He made an appearance in 11 games and started in three of them. “Ben was truly the player that every coach loves to coach,” Spruell remarked. “He was a player that never quit working, never quit learning, and never complained. Whether he was playing or sitting on the sideline, whether it was 1-1, or 12-0, Ben always had the look of someone totally focused on doing whatever it took to win a game.”
From the women’s team, Laurel Benson is from the Appleton area. She started in 12 games, had four goals and five assists this season. Her positive attitude and intensity on the field made her a great leader, and her presence will be missed on field and off.
Gretchen Shaffer, a goalkeeper from Sheridan, Wyo., has a profound love for the game and displayed enthusiasm both on the field and on the bench all four years of her college career. She played in six games this season. She started the last game of the season against Knox, holding the opposing team scoreless.
To all these departing athletes — great work on your final fall season at Lawrence.