Infused with 12 new faces to the roster, the Hiram College women's soccer team, and third-year head coach Mike Cracas, will look to start trending upwards in 2017.
Hitting the recruiting trail in preparation for the 2017-18 academic year, the Terrier coaching staff were tasked with replacing 10 graduating seniors, which included five, four-year starters. Needing to replace talented players such as two-time All-NCAC selection Allie Glatt, Hiram was able to bring in a talented group to combine with their returning playmakers.
Despite a talented recruiting class, the returning upperclassmen will be looked upon to lead the charge in the 2017 season. Seniors Delaney Stryczek and Rebecca Fischer, as well as junior Sophie Bell and sophomores Miranda Miracle, Val Lauderback and Kaitlyn Morse will serve as the captains for the young squad.
A talented and young group of forwards will look to lead the offensive charge this year. The group of attackmen will feature three upperclassmen and a trio of first-year players. Bell, along with senior Emily Syrjala and sophomore Isabel Ebel make up the returners on the front line.
A senior from Seattle, Washington, Syrjala is the leading scorer back for the Terriers on the front line. Having played in 49 career games, she has tallied 16 points, which included six points in 16 starts for Hiram in 2016.
Ward came to Hiram after a very successful four-year stint at nearby McKinley High School in Niles, Ohio. The All-American Conference – White Tier Player of the Year in 2016, Ward earned First-Team All-Ohio honors as a senior. Finishing her decorated career with six Red Dragon records, Ward was also a Three-Time First-Team All-District honoree.
Both Wendel and Smith also come to Hiram after successful playing careers. Hailing from Aurora, Wendel earned First-Team All-Suburban League honors while helping the Greenmen to a League title. Smith, meanwhile, was twice named offensive MVP for DuBois Area High School, helping lift the Beavers to a District 9 Class 3A Championship.
One of two senior captains, Stryczek will serve as a starter in the midfield for the first time in her four-year career. The Montgomery, Ill. Native has seen action in 42 career games and will see starting time alongside sophomore Val Lauderback and freshman Sam Minor.
Lauderback was selected as a captain for the 2017 season after starting 15 matches at midfield for the Terriers as a freshman. Minor, meanwhile, comes to Hiram on the tails of a successful career at Lake High School. A Two-time First-Team All-Federal League honoree, Minor also earned a pair of All-District selections at Lake.
Other players that will see significant time in the middle of the pitch, include sophomore Lauren Caldwell and freshman Caroline Watson. Caldwell appeared in six matches in 2016, while Watson comes to Hiram after earning a pair of All-Mid State League honors at Bexley High School.
The back line of defense for Hiram may be where they return the most experience, as four upperclassmen, and letterwinners, return to the fray. Fischer will serve as the lone senior of the group, joining sophomores Miracle, Morse and Emma Kovach. As a whole, the defense helped the Terriers drop their goals against average from over two in 2015, to 1.91 during the 2016 campaign.
Fischer has seen action in 31 games in two seasons with the Terriers, while Miracle started in 15 of 16 in her first season with Hiram. Kovach also saw time as a freshman, making 10 appearances and a pair of starts in '16.
Along with the defense, a new face will be seen in between the goal posts, as junior transfer Sam Hudson joins the Terriers after a pair of seasons at Ursuline College. A Strongsville, Ohio native, Hudson was an All-Northern Ohio Conference selection for Strongsville High School, where she posted a .25 goals against average as a senior.
Sophomore Allie Green will also see time at keeper, splitting time with Hudson throughout the season. Last year, Green tallied a pair of victories as a freshman, logging 69 saves in 1,029 minutes.
The Terriers, who will play 10 games at Charles A. Henry Field this season, open the 2017 campaign against Thiel College on Friday, Sept. 1. Hiram will play six, non-conference, games on their home soil before opening the NCAC schedule at DePauw on Sept. 30.