Knights yet to concede goal in 2-0 start
After starting the season with a 2-0 record, the Gannon University women’s soccer team aims to make a return trip to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Tournament with a heap of young players now at the helm.
Surprisingly, scoring hasn’t been a problem in the post-Amanda Sharbaugh era, as the Knights first rocked Lake Erie College in their opener in a 4-0 contest. Freshmen forwards and Erie natives Kaitlyn Kissell and Sammy Valloud each scored a pair of goals to start their respective collegiate careers.
Redshirt senior Jordan Rickan scored her first career goal in the subsequent game against Ashland University, which ended in a 1-0 victory.
Rickan scored off a header from freshman forward Mani Brueckner during the 97th minute to give Gannon its most recent victory.
Rickan said her first career goal was long overdue. “What felt even better was the reaction from my teammates,” she said. “They expressed how proud they were and how deserving I was of that goal. That makes all the rehab worth it.”
The overall make-up of this year’s team is drastically different from last year’s squad. Freshmen flood this year’s team, accounting for 12 of the 25 total spots on the Knights’ roster. However, Rickan and five others will be returning for their senior seasons.
“I feel very blessed to be able to return as a fifth-year senior,” the veteran defender said. “It’s a privilege that I’m sure every athlete who finished their four years of eligibility wishes they had.”
Rickan didn’t play at all in 2011 due to an ACL injury she suffered to her right leg before the season.
“When I found out that I wouldn’t be able to play last year and my coach gave me the option to take a medical red-shirt, I didn’t hesitate for a second,” she said. “[Head coach Colin Petersen] and I didn’t even need to have a conversation about it. I knew I had to play out my last year.
“The recovery was tough but I had the support of my teammates, coaches, trainers and my family,” she said.
Rickan began her playing career for the Knights in 2008 and started all 19 games as a true freshman in that season.
This year, a pair of true freshmen have already started for the Knights. Kissell along with midfielder Mani Brueckner have made immediate impacts, as Brueckner has dished out three assists in her first two collegiate contests.
Rickan said the coaching staff has brought in an impressive recruiting class. “We have a very big freshman class and the upperclassman have done a great job making them feel welcome,” she said. “They bring a ton of energy and a variety of skill sets. I’m very excited for them as they start their soccer careers as a Knight.”
The Knights will have their first road test as they visit Lock Haven University at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The team won’t return home until Saturday when they face Shepard University at 1 p.m. at Gannon University Field.
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