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MCGILL: Seven Seniors Set for Final @HerdWSoccer Home Games

Oct. 12, 2017

By Chuck McGill

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Most of the seven seniors on the Marshall women’s soccer team have made the four-year journey through the program together.

“They’re a tight-knit group,” said Kevin Long, the Herd’s head coach.

Five of them – McKenna Klodnick, Emily Moreland, Mary Schmeck, Katie Suchodolski and Adela Trevino – live together in the same house. Rachel Koch, a four-year member of the team, and Nicci Hutzell, a transfer goalkeeper who is in her only season with the program, are the other seniors who will play their final home games this weekend against FIU (Friday, 7 p.m.) and FAU (Sunday, 1 p.m.).

This team has the third-most wins of any four-year period in program history. The 2017 team is 4-8-1 overall and 2-3-1 in Conference USA, so with four regular season games left there remains the opportunity for the Herd to reach the conference tournament.

“That’s our goal,” Klodnick said. “We want everyone to share in that experience. A lot of our freshmen and sophomores want to know what it’s like to be in the conference tournament. Our team is growing closer. These past few wins, they’ve hyped us up.”

Marshall started the season with four consecutive losses but the Herd has been 4-4-1 since that rough start, including two wins and a tie in the last four games. This group is used to ups and downs, though.

“We’ve had our trials and tribulations, for sure,” Schmeck said.

The final games at Hoops Family Field are a harbinger for the quintet of housemates. No more McDonald’s trips for Klodnick, Schmeck and Trevino. No more late-night ice cream runs to satisfy the sweet tooth. No more day recaps in the kitchen before the five of them disperse to their rooms to knock out their studies.

“We’re very close,” Suchodolski said. “There’s always someone around. We all get along so well. We mesh very well. We have the same interests. Having amazing friends for the past four years has made being here that much better.”

Suchodolski came here from Langhorne, Pennsylvania. After starring at Neshaminy High School, she arrived at Marshall with high expectations. She has been beset by a trio of knee injuries – she tore the ACL in her left knee as a freshman and has endured two ACL tears in her right knee. She is four months in recovery from the latest setback, and redshirted this season. She is unsure if she will return next season.

“I think about it often. Is it worth it? Do I want to keep doing it? Can my body handle it?” Suchodolski said. “Mentally, I’m still a soccer player, but I think about whether my body can still do it. I love soccer, so you’re not going to get rid of me that easily.”

She has played in 37 games with 13 career starts, and has one goal and four assists in three seasons of playing.

Klodnick has seen the most time on the pitch among the seniors – 43 career starts and more than 1,000 minutes of playing time in each of the past three seasons. The Rocky River (Ohio) High School product saw plenty of action during Marshall’s C-USA championship game run in 2015. She wants to feel that winning sensation again.

“We only have two more games on this home field,” she said. “We’re all bittersweet about it, but I hope these games end with two more wins.”

Moreland, who played at Springboro (Ohio) High School, has started 11 career games in goal and has two wins this season. She’ll graduate with a double degree – accounting and information management systems. An accounting internship followed by a full-time job await her upon graduation.  

“This experience has really taught me a lot about who I am,” Moreland said. “I feel like I’ve come out of this a stronger person and the skills that I’ve learned on and off the field are going to help me throughout my life. I’m thankful for my experience because it made me a better person.”

Schmeck is a Sissonville native who appeared on consecutive all-state soccer teams in high school. Her coaches lauded her perseverance and resolve. She stuck with the program when others might have decided to quit, and it has led her to senior weekend festivities.

That, in essence, is what this group is about: perseverance. Schmeck endured appendix surgery this season. Koch (Pickerton, Ohio) missed significant time – more than a season – with back issue. Suchodolski had the three knee injuries and Moreland had shoulder surgery.

There were ample reasons to shy away from the challenges of being a Division I student-athlete. The rigors of juggling academics, the hardship of injuries and the challenges of a difficult league could have mounted.

These seven student-athletes have made it to their final home games, but they hope there’s still more to the story.

“As all of our careers come to a close and we’re looking back, it’s been such an opportunity and experience to elevate yourself,” Schmeck. “Not just as an athlete, but as a person, too. It’s not over yet.”

And when it is, the relationships will endure.

“These are my best friends,” Moreland said. “You go through a lot together and that creates a bond. We’re always there for each other … we’re accountability partners. It’s made for lifelong friendships.”