With a pair of shutout victories over SUNY Cortland and Cobleskill State, the Oswego State women’s soccer team closed out its season on the high of a two-game winning streak.
The Lakers finish the season at 7-9 (3-6 SUNYAC), in large part because of a five-game losing streak in the middle of October. They snapped the losing streak by defeating Cortland on Senior Day, 1-0. The overtime victory was sealed by a successful free kick from junior captain Nikki Liadka.
It was the program’s first victory against the Red Dragons in eight years and only the second in team history.
“As far as the finish, losses are forgotten when you beat a team like Cortland,” head coach Brian McGrane said. “We didn’t play poorly in every loss this season, but seniors go out on a high knowing that they are one of two teams in Oswego State history to beat Cortland.”
Senior Day was an emotional roller coaster for the team. The Lakers honored three players on senior day: midfielder Carly Olds and captains Kassie Kleine and Shelly Bateman. Players like sophomore Bri Dolan were happy to be a part of such a milestone victory in the final conference games of the graduating seniors’ careers.
“Experiencing senior day was hard due to the fact that I feel so close to the three graduating players,” Dolan said. “They shared with us what that game meant to them personally and we really wanted to end their SUNYAC careers in the best way.”
Bateman finishes her Oswego State career fifth all-time in points (79), fourth in goals (31) and fourth in assists (17). She is just the second player in program history to finish with at least 31 goals and 17 assists. In her freshman season, Bateman posted the fifth-most goals and the sixth-most points in a single-season in school history (16 goals, 37 points). McGrane praised Bateman for her influence on the program during his tenure as coach.
“Those types of kids don’t come around often,” McGrane said. “Ever since her freshman year, defenses have locked in on her. Players like Shelly can help pass on knowledge to underclassmen because they are an extension of the coaching staff. It is very difficult to play sports at this level for four years. You need a special kind of drive.”
For Liadka, it was an honor to share the field and captain duties with such a dear friend.
“Senior day was both difficult and exciting,” Liadka said. “It was a lot of fun decorating and getting gifts for the older girls, but deep down, I knew that playing soccer with Shelly was almost over. We are best friends and always will be, even when soccer ends.”
Kleine’s Oswego State athletics career is far from over, as she figures to be the starting point guard in her fourth and final season on the women’s basketball team. As McGrane notes, Kleine is a unique student athlete and one of the few that could pull off being a successful two-sport varsity athlete.
“Kassie is a great kid,” McGrane said. “She was the work-study in my office. She comes from a great family, is positive and works very hard in both her collegiate sports. She is not the fastest or the biggest or the tallest, but she is tough to defend, whether it is soccer or basketball.”
Kleine leaves her Laker Field playing days with 30 career points on 12 goals and six assists. She posted consecutive double-digit point seasons to close out her career, including setting a career-high for goals in a season last year with seven and her career-high for assists in a season this year with four.
Olds was a transfer that joined the team in 2011. She was one of the best defenders on the team and did a great job of getting the Lakers out of jams at midfield. Olds recalled how fun the last two years have been.
“[Senior Day] was really exciting and, at the same time, nerve racking. I’ve made so many great friends that I’ll never forget and a lot of memories,” Olds said. “As an individual, playing a college sport has really helped me grow. I’m just glad I was part of the team.”
Olds left an important bit of advice for all students as they enter college and work their way through school.
“If you don’t work hard in practice or prepare for preseason over the summer, it definitely shows,” Olds said. “The same goes for life and school; if you don’t put out the work and effort, others who work harder can easily fill your void.”
Three Lakers were recognized with post-season awards. Bateman was selected to the third-team All-SUNYAC, the third such selection in her four-year career.
Dolan was selected to the first-team All-SUNYAC, the first Laker to make the first-team since 2002. Liadka earned her second consecutive second-team All-SUNYAC selection. She has made an all-conference team in every season with Oswego State and enters next season on pace to finish in the top four in Oswego State history in career points and goals, as well as top six in assists.