FORT WAYNE – Margaret Saurin can’t wait, but she has no choice.
Just about midway through her sixth season as the IPFW women’s soccer coach, Saurin is more than a little excited about the future of the Mastodons, and not necessarily because they open Summit League play Friday at Nebraska Omaha.
No, this is more of a long-range thing, when today’s freshmen are 2015’s seniors, and the momentum that is beginning to build will be at full throttle.
The IPFW women have won four times in their first nine matches this season. While on the surface the statistic doesn’t appear to be significant, this is the earliest that any IPFW women’s soccer team has reached four wins. And the unique aspect is that of the 11 starters, six are freshmen.
Six of them have played a lot this season, Saurin said of her freshmen. Imagine those guys in two or three years with all the experience they’re going to have under their belts. The future’s really looking bright for us, without a doubt.
One of the freshmen is goalkeeper Sam Pavlika, who has been named the Summit League defensive player of the week in two successive weeks.
Sometimes I think we forget a lot (how young the team is), Pavlika said. We expect so much out of each other on the field. We’re a really good team, but we forget that we’re young and most of us aren’t used to the college game and how fast and physical things are. We don’t totally grasp that yet, and we think we should be doing a lot better than what we are doing. Most of our starters are freshmen. A lot of people underestimate us, and we underestimate ourselves.
These are the learning times, Saurin said of her young players. They have played exhibitions; they have played the non-conference season; and now comes the Summit League, where the stakes are higher and there’s a lucrative carrot dangling at the end of the year called the NCAA tournament.
For younger players, it’s finding balance, Saurin said. Being able to manage both school and soccer and have a little bit of social life and being able to transition and making new friends. Those things are really important to balance, and it can be a struggle.
Athletes of note
Indiana Tech golfer Megan Garrison tied for first place at the Battle at Blackthorn tournament in South Bend recently. Garrison shot rounds of 81 and 76 to finish 13 over par, which tied her with a player from Saint Francis, Ill. Earlier, Garrison was named the WHAC Golfer of the Week for the third time this season. Trine defensive end Louis Danesi and wide receiver/return specialist JaVontae Hence were named MIAA players of the week. Other Tech athletes honored as WHAC players of the week were Jordan Roell in women’s soccer and Kelsea Nova in volleyball.