2015 Women's Soccer
August 11, 2015
BLUFFTON, Ohio - With Head Coach Rhonda Gottschalk taking over a women’s soccer program that will have its own full-time coach for the first time in school history, the 2015 team eagerly awaits the opportunity in front of it. Establishing a culture of success on the field and off is the first order of business and the nine returners have devoured everything that Coach Gottschalk has put in front of them. Success is a process and the Bluffton University women’s soccer team is ready to forge an identity that will be clearly visible throughout campus as well as in the Heartland Conference.
The three seniors who will help Coach Gottschalk navigate through her first season at the helm have displayed outstanding leadership during the transition. Senior Ashley Knippen (Wapakoneta) allowed just 1.51 goals per contest in 2013 before spending last season in Ireland. She played an integral part in Bluffton’s record-setting 2015 softball campaign and her athleticism in goal gives the Beavers confidence that they will be in every match they play. Defenders Marisa Aguilar (Taylor, Mich./Divine Child) and Sarah Lawrence (Wapakoneta/Wapakoneta) form an experienced line of defense in front of Knippen.
Kristen Tropf (Findlay/Van Buren) has netted a team-best 10 goals in her first two seasons at Bluffton while starting all 33 matches for the Beavers. Abby Karikas (Curtice/Genoa Area) and Beth Snyder (Akron, NY/Akron Central) are a pair of junior defenders who have a wealth of experience. They are crucial members of Bluffton’s deepest unit.
Sophomore Brittany Huff (Clayton/Northmont) showed off her versatility a season ago, knocking home four tallies while playing primarily as a defender. She also got it done on the softball field, starting at shortstop from day one and hitting eight home runs for a team that ranked near the top of the nation with 50 homers. Katelyn Gardella (Troy/Miami East) also played in all 18 contests as a freshman in 2014.
Working to build a culture that will define Bluffton University women’s soccer, Coach Gottschalk has stressed establishing relationships, being accountable to each other and training each day with the goal of making consistent improvements. The core values of commitment, discipline, being positive and exhibiting humility are consistent with how Coach Gottschalk conducts her business and it comes out through her players and their attitudes. Welcoming a talented class of freshmen to the pitch and showing them what the expectations are is a task that the returners have gravitated to thanks to the mentoring they have received during the off-season.
Coming out of the gate with five home matches in the first seven contests, Bluffton kicks off the season when it hosts Baldwin-Wallace On Tuesday, Sept. 1. Mount Union, Olivet, Cleary and Grace Bible all travel to Bluffton before the Heartland Conference portion of the schedule shifts into high gear on Saturday, Oct. 3 when HCAC favorite Hanover makes the trip to Ohio. The Beavers welcome Defiance College on October 20 before wrapping up the regular season against Rose-Hulman on October 31. Mark your calendars and come out to support your Beavers!