After an astounding 3-0 road victory for the Orange and Blue against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks on Oct. 24, the women’s soccer team now holds the program’s single-season shutout record thanks to a strong defensive effort led by goalkeeper Jessica Ratner ’17. With the win, the Bison clinched the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament, securing them a place in a semifinal match at Boston University against a team to be determined on Nov. 6.
The team’s recent success has been the result of a collective drive to upset the preseason rankings that predicted the Orange and Blue as the league’s fifth-place team. Ratner has played a crucial role within this strong team dynamic by frequently contributing saves in recent games that helped the Bison achieve success. Boasting six saves against Lehigh and four against midweek opponent Loyola, Ratner kept the ball out of the net to boost the team’s Patriot League record to 5-1-2.
“The four backs work so hard every game, and our defensive success comes from our ability to communicate effectively with each other. Owning this record is a huge personal accomplishment and something I am incredibly proud of, but it’s something that wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and leadership of the back line in front of me,” Ratner said.
Ratner has started in all 17 games for the Bison this season and has recorded 82 saves. Her save percentage stands at .837 and she is responsible for the team’s nine shutouts. These impressive numbers are only motivation to continue to strive for equally positive results as the team heads into postseason play.
“My personal goals for the rest of the season are to stay sharp both in training and games, win our last home game to be undefeated at home, and stay focused on our ultimate team goal of winning the Patriot League Championship. The success we’ve had this season is a direct result of the effort and hard work we all put in at practice everyday, and we will continue to be successful as long as we stay focused on our goals!” Ratner said.
The Bison have not won a Patriot League Championship since 2005, yet the goal feels quite attainable to this year’s team, which is on track to surpass additional program records in its final few matches. Ratner hopes to keep opponents off of the Bison scoreboard by putting in extra work each day alongside her determined teammates. She notes the importance of work ethic as a pivotal factor in her success, as she has developed significantly from past years. As a first-year keeper, Ratner played in six games with three starts, and her sophomore campaign included appearances in seven games with two starts. As a more experienced and confident junior, Ratner has been able to find tremendous success after two years of outstanding improvement.
“There were definitely days where I was frustrated, but I kept working hard and didn’t let it get me down. Seeing my skills as a goalkeeper develop in training every day has given me the confidence to take risks and step outside of my comfort zone, which has really paid off in game situations,” Ratner said.
If the Bison are able to hold off league rival West Point in the team’s senior day on Oct. 31, the Orange and Blue will remain undefeated at home for the entire season largely due to the consistent work of Ratner and the rest of the team’s defense. On Nov. 6, Ratner and the rest of the team will travel to Boston for the Patriot League Tournament.
“We know we can compete with any team in this league, and in order to win a Patriot League Championship, we need to keep winning games on the road. We’ve won our last two road games which is a huge step in a positive direction, and heading to Boston for the tournament will be a challenge, but definitely one we are ready for,” Ratner said.
Ratner 2015 Statistics:
Games Played – 17
Games Started – 17
Saves – 82
Saves Percentage – .837
Goals Against – 16
Goals Against Average – 0.90
Shutouts – 9
Season Record: 9-5-3