Women’s Soccer Kicking it into Postseason

Jimmy Fisher, Reporter

The women’s soccer team isn’t finished yet – they’re taking their season into the middle of November, a feat every team hopes to accomplish.

The women completed yet another strong regular season by finishing with an overall record of 18 – 2 – 1, the exact same record the team finished with at the end of the historic 2013 season in which they advanced to the Final Four of the National Championship in Division III.

This marks the third year in a row that the team has gone undefeated in Freedom Conference play.

The team won the Freedom Conference title in a victory over King’s College Nov. 9, an accomplishment that pleased the entire team but especially head coach Mark Stauffer.

Stauffer said the team breaks down the season into three phases. The first phase is scheduling the toughest non-conference slates in the nation and the second slate involves the conference match-ups.

“I think if we continue to take it one game at a time we’re good like that. We don’t look into the future – our next match is our next match. When you do it like that it’s easy,” Stauffer said.

Stauffer said phase three is the postseason where the team is headed after its dominate season and a 5-0 victory over FDU-Florham in the Freedom Conference Championship semifinals on Nov. 5 on Mangelsdorf Field.

The MU women’s soccer team outscored opponents 27-0 in conference play.

Senior centerback Nicolette Ruffler has been with the team since her freshman year. She saw firsthand the transitions from her first season when the team was fighting, to then making it to the playoffs, to last season when the women were two wins away from calling themselves National Champions.

Ruffler said it has been quite the ride and that an early team exit from last year’s tournament was both heartbreaking and gratifying.

“Obviously it was devastating, but at the same time it was every- thing we’d been through was kind of satisfying also,” Ruffler said. “Even just making it that far was an achievement. We were like the underdogs, the little school that could – so satisfying, yet devastating at the same time.”

One game stood out among the rest: a rematch with the defending National Champions, Messiah College. Messiah defeated the Cougars twice last season – once during the regular season and

again when they eliminated MU in the Final Four round.

Stauffer said the defending champions coming to town was a true test for his players, and that even though the game ended in
a zero tie there was much to be happy about.

“I thought it was a good match both ways,” said Stauffer. “They had their chance; we had our chance. I think a draw was the result that was deserved. I’m not sure either team did enough to de- serve a win that day. It was pretty even keel. [I’m] disappointed, yes, but I know whether we win, lose or draw, that match in September really has no bearing on what hap- pens in November and December. I was more performance-driven than result-driven in that match, and I got the performance I wanted out of our team, and the result really didn’t matter a whole lot, but I think the result was the realistic result.”

Senior Alyssa Mocion, a center midfielder, echoed her coach’s statement and said it was satisfying to show that the MU team has improved since the two teams last meeting in the Final Four last season.

“It was definitely satisfying,” said Mocion. “Obviously you want to win, but I think that coming into that game after losing to them in the Final Four and tying them and also proving to them that we could beat them was not only good for our confidence and showing everyone else that we could beat them, [but it was also important] showing them that we have improved so much as a team and we could beat them if we see them again.”

At the start of the playoffs it was interesting to see if the women’s team members had a target on their backs from their success last season and making it to the Final Four in Texas.

Ruffler said players were not focused on being the center of attention. They wanted to keep their eyes on the prize of a National


“[The Na- tional Championship title was] not necessarily a target, but for us, for our team,” said Ruffler. “Knowing that we had gotten there last year and made it to the Final Four, this year our whole concept was being number one, being the National Champions.”

Heading into the post season, the obstacles only get bigger and Mocion knows that through everything, good or bad, the team will remain strong.

“Always remember to work hard for your teammates no matter what happened this season,” said Mocion. “There is a lot of pressure on us, I feel, so just not ever giving up is what you have to do.”

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Editor’s note: At press time the men’s and women’s soccer teams were scheduled to compete in the first round of the NCAA Tourna- ment. The women were set to face off on Mangesldorf Field against Drew University while the men take on Montclair State University. Follow their journeys through the National Tournament through the MU Athlet- ics page and social media handles.