Oct. 22, 2010
By: Robert Ivory
The clock is ticking for the seniors on the women's soccer team at Cleveland State.
The team will be in the Horizon League Tournament this year, with the earliest match coming on Halloween (Oct. 31).
For Seniors Jessica McCloy (Captain), Marley Greiner, Kelly Zinkeiwich, Allie Riczo, Nicole Howard, Shannon Saunders, and Sylvia Olsby; they have come from a scary situation to one of triumph and victory.
"I like to think that I helped (change the culture)," McCloy said. "It's a team, though, and I think it is an effort from everyone."
The year before the majority of the seniors walked onto the campus of Cleveland State, the women's soccer team finished with a record of 3-17 at the end of its third collegiate season.
The seniors would be the first to admit that the team had been at the bottom when they joined.
"I would not change the experience I had," Riczo said. "Even though we have had some really low points, I have never regretted it."
Those low points include a tough 2007 season, the first for the seniors, which included a 5-14-1 record. In that year, however, they got the first-ever Horizon League win for Cleveland State women's soccer, a 2-0 decision over Youngstown State.
"It was awesome winning our first Horizon League game our freshman year," Howard said. It was crazy, but it was also fun to be a part of that."
Compare that with 2010 and the change is almost overwhelming.
Going into the last weekend of play in the 2010 season, the team has an 8-6-2 record, is 4-2-0 in conference play, and has an outside chance of winning the Horizon League title and a legitimate chance of finishing second in the Horizon League.
"It is nice to be part of a program where it has expanded since we walked on," Saunders said.
The team agrees that winning has been caused by the changes that the team has made, including the approach to the game.
"It is different to see the work ethic, the mentality, and the attitude change over the years," Riczo said.
"People are more serious and I think that my class was the first ones to bring that here," Olsby said.
Riczo added that teammates now take every part of the game more serious, including time at practice and even weight training.
"I think that development of the team has been the attitude of the team," Kelly Zinkiewich said. "Everybody is on the same page, knows our goals, and knows where we want to go.
"Us being able to change is also the attitude we bring to practice. The intensity is there (in practice) and it shows in games when we are able to implement on the field what we do in practice."
The seniors agree that the caliber of players has sharply risen since their tenures began at Cleveland State. The perfect example is Zinkiewich herself, who holds several major school records.
She has the career records for saves (371), shutouts (14), minutes played (5,954) and goals against average (1.98) for a Cleveland State goalie.
"I think setting a high expectation for myself helped us out," Zinkiewich said. "I have been able to raise my level of play to how I want to push this team."
McCloy has changed spots in the defense that has aided Zinkiewich, but the duo will become the first pair to help solidify a defense that Cleveland State wants to be known for.
Although the talent has been a pleasant success for the Vikings, two of the seniors had to decide on playing their collegiate athletics far from their home.
Greiner is a native of Burnaby, British Columbia and Sylvia Olsby hails from Seattle, WA, the hometown of Falor. Greiner added that after she had her first visit to Cleveland State she "left with the feeling that I had no reason to say no."
As the voice of the team, McCloy nailed it on the head as to the expressions that the seven seniors had in their careers at Cleveland State:
"No matter what happens (at the end of the year); I am going to be happy. What we have accomplished here at Cleveland State is amazing. Looking at where we have come in years past, I don't think you could have asked for anything better."