PORTSMOUTH — Despite losing one of its best goalkeepers in school history in Michaela Garner, and 10 additional letterwinners from a unit that went 5-11-1 in 2018, the SSU women’s soccer program held serve with its winning percentage — as the Bears finished 6-12-0 during the 2019 campaign.
Shawnee State, who was in its second season under Natasha Ademakinwa’s leadership in 2019, won four of five games at one point during the middle of the season, defeating West Virginia Tech, Union (Ky.) and Point Park (Pa.) by 2-1 margins.
SSU also defeated Brescia by a 6-0 count, and obtained victories over Life (Ga.) and Pikeville in conference play to round out their strong performances.
Heading into the 2020-21 season, SSU will return five of its top seven scorers.
Each of those five scorers — including Eilidh Mchattie, Nikki van Wees, Ellie Aston, Paige Alford and Brenna Woodard — were freshmen in 2019.
Sierra Drake and Kaelynne Goozey also bring much-needed experience and leadership to the midfield, and will aid as the women’s soccer program looks to continue to establish stability under Ademakinwa.
Ball, Kelly set high standard on, off pitch
Before the 2019 season began, Shawnee State seniors Olivia Ball and Jill Kelly were expected to set high standards as the leaders of the Bears’ women’s soccer program.
Both players certainly did just that — and then some.
Ball, who not only played in but started all 68 games of her college career, put up a two-goal campaign and set career bests in shot percentage and shots-on-goal percentage.
Kelly played in all but one game of her college career, and started in 63 contests for Shawnee State.
The defender posted a beauty of a goal to help SSU come away with a 2-1 victory over Point Park, scoring in the 22nd minute to score the game’s opening goal.
Academically, both individuals proved to be stellar in the classroom.
Ball, who graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree in business adminstration and accumulated a perfect 4.0 GPA, earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors while Kelly — who is on track to graduate this spring and currently holds a 3.97 GPA as a mathematical sciences major — earned CoSIDA Academic All-District and second-team CoSIDA Academic All-American honors for her work in the classroom and on the field of play as a back line player.
While Shawnee State returns much of its offensive production from 2019, the duo’s efforts to represent SSU’s program in a positive manner certainly will be missed.
Ball finished her career tied for ninth all-time in program history in games started and tied for 18th in games appeared, while Kelly finished her career with the Bears by tying for 21st in that same category.
Mchattie makes serious hay in strong freshman season
When Shawnee State needed somebody to go get a goal, Eilidh Mchattie could be relied on more often than not.
Mchattie, who led the Bears with eight goals and finished second on the squad with two assists in 2019, posted game-winning goals four times over the course of the year, with the freshman scoring difference-making goals against Union, Point Park, Brescia and Life.
She finished 40th in the NAIA in game-winning goals with four, and won SSU’s lone Mid-South Conference’s Player of the Week award on Sept. 21.
For the season, Mchattie used her strong leg to put 18 of her 30 shots on goal while scoring on eight of those attempts.
Both of those marks also paced the team.
She sits in a tie for 24th all-time in SSU history in single-season goals and 31st all-time in program history on the single-season points list.
Freshmen class makes waves
In addition to Mchattie, the remaining members of Shawnee State’s freshman class made significant strides during the year.
Nikki van Wees led the team in assists and proved to be a valuable piece with her high IQ on the field, as did Brenna Woodard.
Ellie Aston joined Ball and Kelly as the only players to play and start in every game, while Paige Alford joined Aston and Kelly in setting a physical tone on the back line.
All of those figures are back and will add much needed experience and stability to crucial positions on the soccer pitch in 2020.
Chester closes out career with strong marks
With three goals in the 2019 campaign, Destiny Chester moved up the career leaderboard for Shawnee State.
The senior offensive threat finished her career with 16 goals and 36 points to finish 14th all-time in program history in both career goals and career points, and was an academic all-MSC honoree as well.
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