2017 Women's Soccer
August 10, 2017
BLUFFTON, Ohio - A deep recruiting class along with an experienced core of returners has Head Coach Rhonda (Gottschalk) Smith eagerly anticipating her third year at the helm. The 2015 Beavers put together one of the best seasons in school history and Smith has assembled a talented squad to help Bluffton build on that foundation. Despite a rash of injuries last season, the Beavers stayed upbeat in 2016, forging a tight bond that will drive the program as it moves forward.
Seniors Brittany Huff (Union/Northmont) and Katelyn Gardella (Troy/Miami East) have led the Beavers on the field and off during their three years at Bluffton. A three-time All-HCAC selection as well as an All-Heartland Conference performer for the softball team, Brittany Huff led the Beavers with three goals and an assist last season, giving her 12 career goals (tied for 14th all-time) and 28 total points (14th all-time). Gardella has been a mainstay on the pitch the last two seasons, displaying her versatility in multiple positions.
Junior Skylar Liming (St. Marys/Memorial) has the athleticism and experience to bolster Bluffton’s offense and defensive units for the Beavers this fall. Sophomores Lauren Foster-Wheeler (Sidney), Aubrey Bartel (Newton, KS/Newton) and Courtney Davis (Richmond, Mich./Richmond) all played valuable minutes as freshmen and Coach (Gottschalk) Smith will count on them for even greater contributions in year two.
Increasing the depth was priority one after injuries wreaked havoc in 2016 and that mission was accomplished with the arrival of 16 first-year players! While the difficulty of integrating a freshmen class that size would prove daunting to many, Coach (Gottschalk) Smith welcomes the challenge after a season when substitutions were a luxury she was rarely afforded. “I am excited for this incoming class and the potential they have to contribute to our program. I look forward to my returning players welcoming these newcomers and continuing to set the standard of hard work, commitment and dedication they showed throughout last season.” Last year’s team accomplished a cumulative team GPA of 3.5 for the 2016-17 academic year.
The Beavers kick off the season on September 1 when they welcome Ohio Christian for a 5 p.m. tussle. Bluffton travels to Richmond, Ind., for the Heartland Conference opener on Saturday, Sept. 30, before a rivalry matchup with Defiance College at the Sears Complex on Wednesday, Oct. 4. The women cap their home slate with an Oct. 21 contest against Rose-Hulman on Senior Day. A trip to Transylvania one week later brings the regular season to its conclusion when the Beavers do battle with the Pioneers in Lexington, Ky.