Freshmen expected to contribute early in season


Jason Howell

Freshman defender Kayla Stolfa moves the ball up the pitch during the Panthers’ 6-0 loss to Northern Kentucky on Sunday at Lakeside Field.

Bob Reynolds, Sports Editor

The Eastern women’s soccer team comes into the season with 11 freshman players on their roster, who are all expected to contribute at one point during the season.

One freshman is out for the entire season due to injury.

Eastern coach Jason Cherry said it is going to be a process, but his team is going to have to rely on those freshmen.

“It’s a big group,” he said. “I expect everyone, when it’s their time, to come and play their best.”

Cherry signed 11 players before the season started and one of those was Kate Olson, who is a defender on the team.

Olson, who comes to Eastern from University High School in Normal, said she expected a much different game of soccer coming to Eastern.

“I knew that coming into a DI level that the game itself was going to be at a much faster pace than what I’m used to,” she said. “I came in knowing that I needed to get up to speed, and I expected the girls not to have any mercy while pressuring me when I have the ball.”

Eastern senior Molly Hawkins said the Panthers having 11 freshmen could be beneficial to a team.

“It benefits the team because the large number of them forms a strong base for the team for the next four years,” she said. “It all starts now. They’re a solid group and as they continue to grow, they’ll only get better.”

Three freshmen are starting to contribute in a big way in the net for the Panthers. Eastern has three freshman goalkeepers in Liz Carmody, Erin Morgan and Maddie Lyon.

Lyon has been named the starter in the first two Panther games this season and has 22 saves combined in two games. She saved nine shots in the first game against Indiana-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

In the game Sunday against Northern Kentucky, Lyon had 13 saves on 19 Norse shots.

Hawkins has been impressed with each and every one of the three freshman goalies.

“I know it can be intimidating to be a freshman and have to give directions to upperclassmen when they’re on the field,” she said. “But, that’s part of a goalie’s job, and they’ve done well with that. All of the freshmen came in as hard workers and it hasn’t died down. They continue to work hard and keep the competition aspect of practice alive. They aren’t afraid of going into tackles with seniors and that’s a good thing.”

The Panthers will head to Macomb on Friday to take on Western Illinois.


Bob Reynolds can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].