The UWM women soccer team has never lost this season and is currently 15-0 with three ties. The Panthers are the only remaining undefeated team in the NCAA, and they are ranked 82 in the nation.
Teams above them include 74 ranked Maryland at 7-7-3, 63 ranked Utah at 5-8-3 and 51 ranked Marquette at 11-6-1 who the Panthers defeated earlier in the season in a thrilling contest.
The Panthers completed an undefeated season, beating the Youngstown State Penguins 2-1 in overtime on Senior Day, and the last home game of the year at Engelmann Stadium last Saturday, and finishing the season with a 2-0 victory at Cleveland State on Friday.
The seniors are among the best in history at UW-Milwaukee, both on and off the field. The nine student-athletes rank as the winningest UWM women’s soccer class in school history at a 43-18-11 record with two Horizon League titles, and a chance at a third. Team members Anna Smalley, Maddie Tetzke, Aubrey Krahn and Anny West are consistently on the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll.
After losing the 2016 Horizon League Tournament to Northern Kentucky, the Panthers refocused and set their eyes on the prize for 2017.
“After we lost in the final last year, we told ourselves we weren’t going to lose again,” said Krahn, whose two goals in a matchup against 19 ranked rival Marquette earlier this year were enough for the first win over a nationally ranked team in 11 years. “We should be beating everyone.”
Senior Panther goalie Mallory Geurts and her rock-solid backline made up of team captain and Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year Cassidy Blanchard, Kylie Kreple and junior Kelli Swenson, only allowed the Penguins six shots on goal in Saturday’s contest. The team has been dominant defensively with 13 shutout games this season and only five goals allowed all year. The 13 shutouts rank as the third best in the nation, and the Panthers rank among the top 10 in nearly every defensive category.
Not to be outdone by their record-breaking defense, the UWM offense is among the best in the NCAA. A major part of the offensive success is the team’s ability to assist. The team’s 53 assists are second best in the country, and the team is top 10 in almost every other offensive category.
Smalley, Krahn, Kreple, Guerts, Sydney Senn and team captain Jen Eberhardy have appeared in every game this season, showing the importance of the seniors to the Panthers.
Smalley and Krahn co-lead the Horizon League in points with 23 each. Smalley’s 69 points is fourth all-time in UW-Milwaukee history, and along with fellow senior Blanchard, has been named to multiple All-Horizon League teams and both have received many accolades.
The last home game was played in front of a crowd of just 341 attendees, mostly family and friends of the team, on a beautifully mild and bright Milwaukee afternoon. The Milwaukee student section was non-existent, but the parents showed an outpouring of support for their team and girls, including a Halloween jack-o-lantern suit clad father.
Krahn scored the first goal for Milwaukee on an assist from Lourdes Onwuemeka a minute and 41 seconds into the contest. Youngstown’s Rashed Abdul-Rahman answered with a score from a Sammy Salantino corner kick 46 minutes and six seconds into the game. The Panthers outshot the Penguins 26-6 during the contest but were unable to net another goal until overtime. Senior Maddie Tetzke scored her first goal of the season on a score assisted by both Krahn and Onwuemeka two minutes and 31 seconds into the extra period.
“Maddie did the little things that winners do on that goal,” said Panthers coach Troy Fabiano whose team has not lost a game this season.
The team thinks of itself as a family, especially senior roommates, goalkeeper Guerts and one of her defenders Kreple.
The two are the last on the field after practices, even after the coaches have left. Kreple and Guerts followed Coach Fabiano from UW-Parkside, where Guerts received All-American honors, to Milwaukee, and the trio hasn’t looked back since.
“I’m so proud of how the team has grown both on and off the field,” said Fabiano. “Thank you, seniors, you made coaching easy.”
The team will be in strong shape to contend again next year, despite the loss of the nine seniors, as three of the team’s top scorers in junior Lourdes Onwuemeka, sophmore McKaela Schmelzer and freshman Mackenzie Schill will return.
The UWM women soccer team look to finish out their undefeated season with their last regular season game at Cleveland State on October 27, and then the Horizon League tournament and a chance at the NCAA tournament starting on October 30.