Huntington, Ind. - Although the 2011 season ended prematurely with a disappointing 2-1 loss to Marian University on Saturday in first round action of the Mid-Central Conference tournament, the Forester women’s soccer program continues to move in the right direction.
The women finished with a 10-6-3 record and a fifth place finish in the MCC. Just like last year was a season of firsts for Huntington women’s soccer, 2011 followed in its footsteps. It was the first time in school history the program reached ten wins in the regular season, received votes in the NAIA top 25 poll and had back-to-back ten win seasons.
Although in many people’s eyes the Foresters had a successful season, the team and coaches know this could have been a very different season. Two key injuries changed things for HU. 2010 MCC All-Conference players Sam Cubic and Brittany Hartman missed significant time in 2011.
In the first conference game against Goshen College, Sam Cubic’s season came to an abrupt halt.
“That was a really hard thing to witness,” said Head Coach Ryan Burgher. “Sam is the top player on our team and the heart of this team. It was a really terrible loss.”
With Cubic the Foresters were 7-2, without Cubic the Foresters were 3-3-2. She led the team in assists and finished as the Foresters’ second leading goal scorer .
Brittany Hartman had nine goals in 13 games and was one goal away from tying her 2010 total before injury came knocking at her door just a few games after Cubic went down.
“Brittany is one of the strongest girls I know and when she didn’t get up, I knew something was wrong,” said Coach Burgher. “She is the type of striker who could work by herself up top for 90 minutes and you knew she would get at least four or five chances a game.”
With Hartman the Foresters outscored opponents 33-18, without Hartman opponents outscored the Foresters 9-4. Hartman finished the 2011 season as the leading goal scorer for the Foresters.
Although losing their top player and leading goal scorer, the Foresters battled to the very end. Going into the final game of the regular season, they had a chance to clinch second place in conference.
“This season speaks highly of the caliber of players we have in our program,” said Coach Burgher. “We lose two of our top players but we still have a chance to finish second. We have much more depth than ever before. We received votes in the nation, hit ten wins and finished well above .500, but we missed quite a few of our team goals. It’s a bitter sweet feeling for us.”
2012 is already promising to be a very strong year for the Foresters. They will be returning 15 players who started throughout the 2011 campaign, including their top three goal scorers in Hartman, Cubic and Erin Barclay.
“We have solid players coming back all over the field,” said Coach Burgher. “We have girls who received significant playing time at all positions. I’m excited to see what the 2012 recruits bring to the table. It’s their job to take starting spots and it’s my returners’ job to keep them. The depth and competition of our team has really, and will continue, to take huge steps forward.”
The Foresters say goodbye to seniors Rachel Mathews, Jessie Turnow, Shelly Bradbury and Heidi Zeman. Over the last four years, each of these players has made significant contributions to the program.