Women’s Soccer Poised for New Heights in 2012


by Joshua Neuhart

Grace’s women’s soccer team is no longer a secret. The Lady Lancers have made a name for themselves in the national soccer scene with recent success and are poised to continue their winning ways in 2012.

One of Grace’s strengths this season is its depth and experience. The Lady Lancers return 10 of their 11 starters, including captains Jocelyn Evans and Carmen Barnhill. Evans, a senior, is the reigning Midfielder of the Year for the Crossroads League after recording five goals and 10 assists in 2011, and junior Barnhill returns as one of Grace’s two goalkeeping options just one year after earning First Team NCCAA All-American status.

Several other returning players figure to play a major part in Grace’s attack, including: Kristin Yocum (4 goals), Holly Bennett (8 goals, 7 assists), Kelsey Christner (4 goals, 5 assists) and Kaitlan Wiles (5 goals, 6 assists).

Defensively, junior Jalisa Thayer and sophomores Liz Casey, Jessica Bickle and Lauren Becker return to a defensive unit that recorded eight shutouts in 2011. Grace’s depth will also benefit from returning several players to full health, including Emily Hickerson, Jackie Seal, Ryann Casciari and Abigail Burns.

“I think returning 10 starting players is a new dimension for us,” sixth-year head coach Michael Voss commented. “We have returning players who have reached a fantastic level of unity together and have made that a standard. I really believe in this core to hit the ground running. And once we get our freshmen up to speed, it will be just that much better.”

Voss has brought in a number of accomplished freshmen to battle for starting spots, including Mallory Rondeau (Wawasee HS), Darcy Johnston (Rochester, Mich.), Carianne Sobey (Woodstock, Ill.), Faith Voehringer (Covenant Christian HS), Erica Manchess (Pendleton HS), Rachel Elsner (Lititz, Pa.) and Heather Martin (Bremen HS).

“I’m super excited to have this crew together at last this year,” Voss continued. “The personnel believe in this system and in preaching Christ through soccer. I’m excited to wind this team up and let them go. I don’t know what their limitations are, but it will be a rocket ride to the moon trying to find them. I am totally stoked to be piloting this group.”

Grace’s schedule includes a number of teams that finished ranked in the NAIA’s Top 25. They also welcome the Haiti Women’s National Team to Miller Field for a must-see exhibition game on Aug. 25.

The Lady Lancers open their season at home against Illinois Tech on Aug. 18 at 2 p.m.