Scranton soccer is used to having a target on its back. Whether it be men’s or women’s, the teams are characterized by their work ethic, determination and success.
The University of Scranton men’s and women’s soccer teams were once again ranked in the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division III Soccer Mid-Atlantic Region Poll this week. With the women moving up from sixth to fifth and the men, after suffering two close losses, falling from sixth to tenth.
Both teams have fought through tough schedules so far this 2017 season. The men (6-3-0) have already faced three regionally-ranked teams: Lycoming, Haverford and SUNY-Cortland. The women (5-2-2) have battled against regionally-ranked Swathmore, Wilkes and New York University.
Although the hope of a perfect season is a thing of the past for both programs, that does not decrease their drive by any means.
“You’re always looking for improvement and to see the numbers go up it’s great…just getting a wins is awesome, and good wins. We want to get quality wins against quality opponents and that’s what we’re doing to help us keep moving,” senior midfielder and captain Hannah DeMars of women’s soccer said.
On top of the regional rankings, both teams also look to repeat the triumph of last season in their winning of the Landmark Conference championship.
Winning the Landmark Conference championship is arguably more important than regional rankings for these student-athletes, especially as the women look to win it for a second time in a row, and the men look to win it for a third.
“It’s great to be ranked, but we’re really just focusing on playing Scranton soccer, getting good wins, and if the ranking comes with it, it’s great but we’re just focusing on getting the wins right now,” DeMars said.
There is an added cross to bear that goes along with being regionally ranked. That is, added pressure and added fierceness of competition.
These are two things DeMars does not seem to be phased by.
“We’re a good program. We have a lot of wins and we just have a history deep in tradition. Definitely winning the Landmark [Conference championship] last year, teams are coming after us. I mean, we know what it’s like to gun after a team who’s won the conference and we’re expecting it this year, but we also know we’re going to come out and play harder and get these wins,” DeMars said.
So, whether you prefer to be #TitleChasing or to #PlayIn11—the slogans for the women’s and men’s teams —these are teams that no opponent will ignore. And you should not ignore them either.