Season begins as women’s soccer returns to PAC

Lilly Noel, ’23, makes a daring play between two Pitt players by kicking the ball over their heads.

For the first time in 38 years, the women’s soccer team is preparing to enter a new athletic conference. With their continued work in nonconference games last weekend, they hope to make a big impact on their new opponents.
On Saturday, the women’s soccer team faced the Bobcats of the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg. Just over six minutes into the game, Lilly Noel, ’23, scored the first goal for the Gators and her first goal of the 2022 season. A throw-in from the right-wing side of the field went untouched and ended up in a perfect spot for Noel to flick it into the upper right corner of the net.
The early deficit did not deter the Bobcats’ high-energy attack, and they netted two goals in the span of a little over a minute from each other, taking the lead 2-1 into intermission.
The Gators did not go down without a fight, however. Allegheny recorded seven shots in the final 21 minutes. After breaking away with the ball midfield, Taylor McKindley, ’25, fed Emily Beck, ’25, a pass and she scored a goal. While they got an early lead, the Gators fell short with a 5-2 loss.
“I think there were obviously some moments when we showed lots of room for improvement but these are what these early season games are for,” said Women’s Soccer Head Coach Lacey Phillips after the game. “Working out the kinks and fine-tuning some of the pivotal moments in the game.”
Throughout the game, the both teams stayed consistent with their shots, each ending with 22 shots on goal. However, Pitt-Greensburg had an advantage with 14 shots on goal, compared to the Gators’ 10.
“In terms of the stat line, we were dead even in shots so that shows we’re generating chances and we did have some offensive play,” Phillips said. “But I do think our turnovers definitely hurt us in the game today.”
Playing against teams they have never competed against, Phillips said she is not nervous for her team’s season but confident in their ability to play well against the new matchups.
Announced last summer by Allegheny College President Hilary Link, Allegheny sports rejoined the Presidential Athletic Conference after competing in the North Coast Athletic Conference. This change affects most of Allegheny’s team sports on campus. The switch will change the amount of times spent traveling to games, and also further encourages students to remain academically motivated.
“Moving to the PAC gives our student-athletes more local visibility and support, more time to spend on their studies and co-curricular activities, and more opportunity to achieve success in the classroom and on the field or court,” Link said in a press conference earlier this year.
Decreased travel time is a factor many players and coaches are looking forward to with the new conference.
“I think we’re ready,” Phillips said. “I think the top of the table in that conference is clear but like I said if we can continue to hone in on the things we’re working towards, like making more of a final effort we’re gonna be just fine.,” said Phillips
Phillips said she is looking forward to the closer games.
“It decreases some of the added time commitment on the student-athletes because we’ll travel (to) all (away games) within day trips,” Phillips said. “All of our trips are under three hours.”
Along with decreasing travel time, Phillips believes closer games will largely change the recruitment process for new players, saying it changes the dynamic of who and where they can find people. Additionally, it changes the energy of away games.
“We’re traveling closer to where some of the players are from so it makes attendance more attainable,” Phillips said. “I think we have a real opportunity to get into that conference and earn some respect right off the bat.”
With two more games left until official PAC play begins, Phillips says she is hopeful that they will make an impact on the conference. Also, she noted that she is confident they will be able to battle against notoriously hard teams in the conference.
“There are some teams that have some championships under their belt but at the end of the day, we’re gonna do our part to earn our spot in the top 6 and chip away at the top teams in the conference,” Phillips said.
The women’s soccer team has their last nonconference game on Saturday, Sept. 17, at Robertson Athletic Complex against Penn State Behrend. They will then go on to play Bethany College for their opening game in the PAC next Wednesday, Sept. 21.