The Seton Hill women’s soccer team is amid one of the most successful seasons in program history since joining DII in 2008. But who are the Griffins?
Seton Hill is still relatively young in the DII women’s soccer sense. Ten years in, there hasn’t been a tremendous amount of success, aside from one winning season prior to last year’s historic run. Now, with expectations higher than ever, the Griffins have responded, off to a 5-1-0 start and are now the No. 20-ranked team in the land.
Who better to tell us about this team than one of their star players. Senior forward Emily LoPresti has been at Seton Hill for four years and has seen the transformation unfold.
A whole new chemistry
When LoPresti and her fellow senior class arrived on the Greensburg, Pennsylvania campus back in 2015, the Griffins were coming off an uninspiring 5-10-3 season. She and her freshman class made an immediate impact, improving by two wins. In their sophomore season, the Griffins chipped off two losses from the previous season. Last year, the Griffins won a program-best 12 games and made it to the first Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament in program history.
Things have changed quickly at Seton Hill. The Griffins are currently tied with last year’s start to the season, needing a win this Friday against Millersville for the first 6-1-0 start in program history. They made their debut in the top 25 last week and jumped four spots this week, the first time the Griffins have appeared in two polls in the same season.
History is seemingly being made every match. So, what’s going on at Dick’s Sporting Goods Field?
WSOC: Emily LoPresti nets the game winner with 3:03 to play in the first OT period and the Griffins defeat Wheeling Jesuit 4-3. pic.twitter.com/zMDP4D9is4— SHUGriffin Athletics (@GriffinsSports) September 6, 2018
“We have some young girls that have come in and made a big difference,” LoPresti said. “Our starting eleven is not really consistent. A lot of players can come in, whether that’s starting or coming off the bench. I think we just rely on each other a lot, our chemistry as a team has been stronger than previous years.
“Before we wouldn’t make a lot of subs, but now we can rely on more people to come in do whatever we need them to do.”
LoPresti gets a potent wing
Welcome Italia Biondi to the mix. For three years, LoPresti has been the No. 1 scoring option for the Griffins. She’s scored 34 goals over the past three seasons. During that same span, the rest of the Griffins scored 48 goals. LoPresti scored nine game-winning goals in last season's 12-win campaign.
Simply put, LoPresti was the Griffins' offense.
Not that the senior minds the pressure, but this year, she has some help. Biondi transferred in from Duquesne last year but redshirted as a junior. This season she’s already made her presence felt, leading the Griffins in goals scored six matches in.
“I’m just used to having that pressure on me from previous years. I’m used to helping my team get it done early, so we can just get the win.
“She’s [Biondi] come in and made a big difference on this team,” LoPresti said. “I feel like in previous years we would just rely on me as the main scorer. It’s better to have someone else, knowing that we can still win even if I don’t play well or score. It’s nice having her on the outside, bringing the energy and scoring goals for us.”
There is no denying the senior class has made its mark at Seton Hill. Starting keeper Jessica Neill, Maddie Beltzer, Melanie Renda, Madison Schwerzler, and Randi Selbekk all arrived as wide-eyed freshmen with LoPresti four years ago. They shared the common goal of making a difference.
“My class as a whole has really changed this program,” LoPresti said. “That first year we came in and won more games than the previous year, we've just stepped it up and made this program better. We’ve always been close, pushing this team to keep going. I hope when we leave they carry on the tradition.
“We’re actually a really close team now, especially more than previous years. We rely on each other, we’re like a family now and communicate with each other, instead of fighting. I think it comes down to that we appreciate each other much more than we had before.”
Women's Soccer Athlete of the Week goes to @GriffinsSports Emily LoPresti. She scored 4 goals and added an assist in her two matches, scoring the game-winning goal in both overtime wins #PSACwsoc pic.twitter.com/QIH2JAVPHW— PSAC Sports (@PSACsports) September 10, 2018
So what about LoPresti? Who is the Griffins star forward?
Favorite movie: That’s tough. Sports movies are my favorite. But I’ll say She’s the Man. I can relate to that a lot more.
Pregame music: Thirty minutes away from where we’re going, we always have someone play music. We usually play sing-along songs so that will get people up and going. I like to get hyped up before.
Superstitions: I have a lot, there’s so many to name them all. I always have to eat an orange before a game, I drink Pedialyte before a game. I put my left shoe on first. A bunch of stupid stuff like that.
Favorite candy: Sour Patch Watermelon.
Best part about Seton Hill: I like how small it is, and how everyone is so close. Every team here supports each other and hopes for the best for each other. I think that’s what makes this place so special.