WINONA LAKE – The 2014-15 edition of the Grace College women’s soccer team had a season to remember.
The terrific trio of former local high school stars Mallory Rondeau, Meredith Hollar and Abby Schue were a huge part of the memories created in the best season in program history too.
Coach Michael Voss’ stellar squad capped off the year with its first-ever appearance in a national championship match last weekend. Despite a loss to Lee University in penalty kicks in the finale of the NCCAA National Championships in Florida, the Lancers were terrific.
“Yes It was disappointing that we lost, but you have to keep it in perspective,” said Voss, whose team tied a program record for wins with its final mark of 17-5-3. “We gave our best versus Lee and had a complete performance.
“We had a great run and should have beaten Lee, but that’s futbol. I’m still very pleased with our team. They are awesome young ladies who I’m grateful to coach. They really played well in that final game.
“My three seniors were absolutely top shelf people. They will have a special place always in Grace women’s soccer. They were genuine in that the team was more important than me and they lived the mission of serving their teammates. I hope to duplicate them.”
The senior class of Kaitlin Wiles, Holly Bennett and Kelsey Christner (who played at Westview High School) went 62-23-11 in their brilliant college careers.
Hollar, a sophomore star who played at Warsaw, showed her character this season. The standout played a more limited role, coming off the bench most of the season, after suffering the second torn ACL of her playing career late last season and having to miss the team’s appearance in the semifinals of the national tourney. That came on the heels of a fantastic freshman campaign for the star forward, who also overcame a couple of major injuries to set all kinds of records as the most prolific player ever at WCHS.
“It was a journey,” said Hollar, who was named NCCAA first-team All-American after her fabulous freshman campaign. “We had to do a lot of different things as a team to come together this year. We had a lot of good players and had to balance playing time. We needed everyone on the team to do what we did. Each year we have been building. The future looks very positive for us and our goal is to win an NAIA national championship next year.”
Voss, whose playing career came to an end after four knee surgeries, heaped praise on Hollar for her perseverance and fortitude.
“I’m just extremely proud of Meredith,” Voss said. “Her impressive character drove her through. She had some hard moments this season, but accepted the role to do the best she could and put the team and her teammates first.
“it was very rewarding to see her put in the work after another torn ACL last year and come back. She’s a fantastic player. Very few players would be able to overcome that amount of adversity that she has faced. But I’m not surprised that she did it. Her faith pushed her through it.”
Rondeau, a junior who played at Wawasee High School, starred for Grace. The forward was named the NCCAA Player of the Year. She had 18 goals and 11 assists this season, including four goals and an assists in Grace’s four games in the national tourney.
Schue, the freshman goalie for Grace who also played at WCHS, earned first-team NCCAA All-American honors, along with Rondeau and junior Carianne Sobey. Schue, who was named the Outstanding Defensive Player of the NCCAA Tourney, had 14 shutouts this season. She allowed just 13 goals in 25 games, including just one in the four tourney games at season’s end.
Sobey, who is already the program’s all-time assists leader with 39, had five goals and 12 assists.
The Lancers also continue to star in the classroom. Eleven members of the team earned NAIA and NCCAA Scholar-Athlete distinction this season.
“Our future looks strong,” said Voss, who just finished his eighth season at Grace. “We have to do the work, polish some things and continue to get better. We are sitting good though and should be a force to be reckoned with next year again.”