WATERTOWN, Wis. -- Was the 2018 season for the Sabercats Women's Soccer team a successful one?
Depends on the angle you take.
From one angle, the Sabercats faced heartbreak in the NCCAA Regional Championship for the second year in a row, as the Providence University College Pilots managed to repeat the story of 2017: down by a goal in the final minute of regulation, the Pilots equalized, then scored the winner in overtime.
That hurt. And for better or worse, it was the most memorable result of the season.
Going along with that, this is a program that had been to the NCCAA National Tournament in nine of 10 years coming into last year. So to miss out on the national tournament again is quite the downer.
But there's always more than one angle. This year's group accomplished a lot on a team level. The Sabercats posted their second season with a winning record since 2010 - a stat that may seem surprising for a program that has competed at the NCCAA National Tournament six times in that timeframe. This team stayed competitive in the process as well, as they defeated NACC opponents Lakeland for just the seventh time in 27 attempts and nearly defeated Edgewood College for the first time in program history.
Also, the Sabercats landed five student-athletes on the AD3I All-Independent 1st Team. Hannah Evans, Kimberly Grogan, Alison Hernandez, Alexis Sponable, and Hannah Wells all earned the AD3I's highest recognition. As an added bonus, Grogan, Hernandez, Sponable, and Wells were all named to the NCCAA North All-Region Team.
And let's look at it from the angle of individual accomplishments.
Alison Hernandez concluded her four-year career by becoming the first student-athlete in program history to earn NCCAA All-American honors. Hernandez now ranks ninth in career assists for the program (13 assists) while ranking 11th in career points with 55. Hernandez also was named as an AD3I 1st Team All-Independent selection for the second season of her career.
Alexis Sponable was up there as well, as the sophomore upped her career goals tally to 34, which is eighth all-time in program history. Sponable recorded three hat-tricks on the year which included four goals in the Sabercats' 8-1 defeat of Lincoln Christian. Sponable recorded 36 points this season, which lands her at a tie for seventh for single-season points in program history.
Hannah Wells took home NCCAA All-Region honors and was also named as the Goalkeeper of the Year for the AD3I. Wells finished the year with a .803 save percentage, which is good enough for seventh in program history (records date back to 2000).
A final angle is this: this team came together as a family, and they formed powerful bonds. Nine members of the team were playing in their final year, and they brought the other 12 team members along to prepare them to carry the mantle in 2019.
Jaclyn Dahl, Hannah Evans, and Amy Montgomery learned the midfield ropes at the college level, and the trio of freshman will be expected to carry that mantle into 2019, as the Sabercats look to get back to the national stage. Sophomores Alexis Sponable and Heidi Pape had key roles this season, but they will be relied upon to a greater extent in 2019 as well, as the team is slated to be void of any four-year players.
"Every season has its ups and downs, and this was no different," said Coach Dave Anderson. "There are accomplishments which I think our staff and players can be very proud of but there are also the elements we look forward to improving in. [Key] positions are being vacated by seniors. I'm excited about the prospect of improvement and growth represented in our players and staff. I am also continually thankful for the opportunity to rub shoulders with the quality people God has allowed to be part of our program."
Anderson himself took home two noteworthy honors for the season's work, as he was named as the NCCAA North Region Coach of the Year while earning the same honor from the AD3I.
At last week's Athletic Awards Assembly, the Sabercats announced their team awards, which are based on the team's CORE BELIEF DOCUMENT. In addition to these honors, the student-athletes earned awards from the Association of Division III Independents and the National Christian College Athletic Association.
A complete breakdown of the awards is listed below:
|CORE BELIEF AWARD||RECIPIENT|
|Excellence Award||Alison Hernandez|
|Character Award||Rachel Prigge|
|Family Award||Kimberly Grogan|
|AD3I 1st Team All-Independent|
|Hannah Evans||Kimberly Grogan|
|Alison Hernandez||Alexis Sponable|
|Hannah Wells (Goalkeeper of the Year)|
|NCCAA All-Region Selections|
|Kimberly Grogan||Alison Hernandez|
|Alexis Sponable (North Region MVP)||Hannah Wells|
|NCCAA All-America 1st Team Selections|
|NCCAA All-American 2nd Team Selections|
|Kimberly Grogan||Alexis Sponable|
|Leah Ng||Alyssa Wright|
For more on the program, visit their team page HERE.