The women’s soccer team is celebrating 30 years as an athletic program at Allegheny College this year, and is planning a celebratory weekend during Homecoming.
“We’ve always held ourselves to really high standards,” said midfielder and forward Liana Leja, ’17. “At the beginning of every preseason we set expectations, and we do individual goals and team goals. And everyone has their game day traditions; at the end of our warmup we get into a Chelsea’s circle and link arms and pass the ball around.”
In addition to pre-game warmup traditions, the team honors a player after each game.
“We do a Gator of the Game after each game, so we choose someone who did the most or worked the hardest or scored well,” said midfielder Colleen Fleming, ’17.
Head Coach Pam Monnier said the team cares about the traditions of the program, but wants to put their own spin on it each year.
“I think one thing that’s stayed is being within the competitive conference that we’re in and staying competitive, and knowing that we have a chance to win the conference. But it’s not an easy road,” Monnier said. “I think competing at a high level in addition to having high-level academics is something they take a lot of pride in.”
Though Allegheny’s traditions have held through the years, the game of soccer has developed and grown in popularity.
“The game of soccer in general has developed a lot, especially women’s soccer has come a long way,” Leja said.
Fleming added that the popularity on Allegheny’s campus and nationally has grown.
“The game itself has gotten more popular in the U.S. and women’s sports have gotten more competitive, and with the success of the national team there are better and better athletes going into soccer,” Fleming said.
The team will have a lunch with the alumni coming back to campus for the weekend in addition to having two alumnae inducted in the Hall of Fame during the football game on Oct. 1.
Monnier said she is looking forward to the current team having the opportunity to talk to all of the alumni returning.
“I think it demonstrates that not only do we have 30 years of soccer here, we have 30 years of really competitive soccer with important players that have come out of here,” Monnier said. “I think having those alums come back and speak to our players directly is really going to be beneficial for them, not only to learn the history and legacy of the program, but to understand that this is a jumping off point for their careers and that Allegheny can get them where they want to be, and soccer can be a good influence in that.”
Fleming and Leja agreed that time with alumni and the chance to play soccer with them is what they are looking forward to most.
“It’s so exciting to see alumni coming back. We are close to our alumni and talk to them often. It’s exciting to have two alumni inducted in the Hall of Fame. Even when we have alumni games, it’s exciting to see alums from way back, and this will be a bigger opportunity,” Leja said.
The Gators will face Wittenberg University on Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. at home. They will be honoring returning alumnae at halftime and two women’s soccer alumnae will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.