The 2017 Delta Ladies Soccer season is officially in the books, after a year that saw them claim a Regional Championship and play for the chance to win a National Championship. In the opening round, Delta controlled the pace and the time of possession and got a 2-0 win over Madison. Goals in the game were scored by Freshman sensation Skylar Eckert and also Sophomore Taylor Farrand. These two players were the only double digit goal scorers on the season for the Pioneers. A shutout was again recorded by three time player of the week Freshman Kalyn Breckenridge, who recorded a 0.84 Goals Against Average on the season.
The second game of the tournament featured the Pioneers facing the number one seed Herkimer in a game that featured snow in the overnight forecast and temperatures down in the teens. Herkimer won the toss and quickly pounced on Delta scoring two goals within the first ten minutes of the game. Eckert and the Pioneers rallied and got a goal five minutes later to pull them back within one, only to see the advantage grow back to two in the ensuing minute. Herkimer went on to score 4 goals in the opening half, opening up a 4-1 advantage.
"I will never forget the speech from Coach Paul (Stenglein) at halftime saying we needed to score a goal every 15 minutes," Eckert said. "And we almost did."
Two goals were scored by Delta in the second half with the advantage of the wind at their backs. Kyla Breckenridge scored on a header to bring the score within 2 and then Eckert added her second goal of the afternoon bringing the game within 4-3 but Delta ran out of time, falling to Herkimer by that score.
"If we had 10 more minutes we could've scored again," Athletic Director Shelly Raube said after the game. "We may have even been able to get two."
It was a great comeback, but the season was still not over despite the loss. After a day off, the girls rebounded and took on Rowan-Gloucester College in the third place game.
The first half was not one of the stronger ones Delta had all season, but they only found themselves down one at the intermission with 45 minutes still to play. Early in the second half they were pressing a little too much, and ended up receiving two yellow cards in total in the half. But the constant pressure, amplified as soon as the second yellow card was given, lead to a turnover in their opponent's own zone, and the ball finding the leading scorer, Eckert, who sent her twentieth goal of the season into the back of the net and tying the game at one. But the excitement was far from over, just two minutes later a takedown in the box lead to a Penalty Kick for Rowan-Gloucester. Breckenridge answered with a huge save, keeping the game tied and sending it directly into Penalty Kicks. They were unable to convert on all of their PK's, as Breckenridge was able to stop the third shot. All five shots were converted by Delta, Hope Emington, Delaney Gravlin, Lindsey Musser, Kaitlyn Viaene and Madison Tweddle were the five that scored and sealed it for Delta.
"I don't think there's a more dramatic way to win than that," Sophomore Paige Renshaw said.
"The end of our third place game was amazing," Head Coach Paul Stenglein said. "Everyone was focused, and Kalyn Breckenridge was outstanding in goal with her PK saves."
"One thing that will stay with (Co-Head Coach) Damon Amey and I from this season, is the way that this team was created in August and then became so close knit so quickly," Stenglein added. "They would do anything for each other. Their individual desires were secondary to the needs of the team and program. Their attitude was critical for our success leading into the National Tournament."
"It's hard to pick one takeaway from the season," Eckert said. "We were just so close, everything seemed fun." And on a personal note, Eckert said she would like to score more than 20 goals next year and help get her team back to the National Tournament.
"I would say the best take away moment from our season would be tying Schoolcraft 1-1 on our home field and having tons of family and student athletes in the crowd cheering us on." Renshaw added.
When asked about what Delta can build upon for next year, Coach Stenglein said "I think that there are a number of items that this tournament and season showed us. A commitment to working on technical skills and improving tactical knowledge in the offseason will have a huge benefit for the individual girls and team collectively as we head into 2018."
The 2017 season may be over, but it will be one that will not be soon forgotten. One last big congratulations to the ladies on all they accomplished this season, and we cannot wait for them to fire back up again next August.