After one year without competition, the women’s soccer team found a multitude of success. The team made it to playoffs and broke through round one to face the monster that is Misericordia (No. 3) in the second round. The Colonels fell to Misericordia, but their season had many more positives for a second round exit to be their story.
“Honestly, it’s been an interesting year, but one we have all come together for and enjoyed,” said head coach John McNichol. “I think we all gained a different perspective after having everything taken away from us with COVID. It kind of refocuses you and overall, it’s been a year where we dealt with a lot of adversity.”
One of the biggest pieces of adversity that this team dealt with was the loss of graduate student Niamh Harkins due to a hamstring injury. Harkins has been the starting center- back for Wilkes for the past five seasons and has earned first team All-MAC honors each year.
With the cornerstone of Harkins out for part of the season, senior forward Emily Bidelspach took on a big role with leading and shaping this team to be what they are today.
“I think our team really looks to her to score goals,” said McNichol. “I think we’ve watched her grow as a player from her first-year until now. I think her confidence has gone up– scoring 13 goals in a season in our conference is difficult to do. She wants to finish and go to goal. Having someone who wants the ball at her feet and to go to the goal is great. We are very excited that we had her on our team and not someone we had to play against.”
Bidelspach has been a crucial part of this team throughout her four seasons with the Colonels. She has accumulated 51 points (both assists and goals) displaying her offensive prowess during her time at Wilkes.
“It means a lot,” said Bidelspach. “I’ve put in a lot of work over breaks and summer so that was always a goal of mine. I had a good opportunity my first-year because of injuries and things like that. It was always one of my goals to go to a team where I would be able to perform and compete.”
Bidelspach primarily focuses on being a core offensive piece for the Colonels, but she also is a diverse enough player to bounce back on defense when her team needs her help.
“Especially this past season, she’s made such a big impact,” said senior midfielder Karyna Vargas. “Not only did she score the most goals on our team this year, she was also a big part defensively when she was needed there. She is incredibly athletic, that makes her a diverse player.”
Over her four years at Wilkes, Bidelspach has drafted quite the repertoire with being a leader for this team on the field and a leader in the classroom. Bidelspach, alongside soccer, is a nursing major. Balancing these two elements is a hefty task, but being able to balance both and be an all-star in both fields is even more of a daunting task.
“I’m not a captain or anything, but I like that a lot,” said Bidelspach. “I’m better at leading by example than speaking and leading that way. I know younger girls can look up to me and being a good role model for them means a lot. Stepping up on big opportunities is what I strive to do. I like to be there for them and create a good atmosphere.”
The legacy and impact that Bidelspach had on this team, whether it was her school efforts or her athletic ambitions, is one that will make a lasting indent on her teammates for years to come.
“She’s a great person to coach,” said McNichol. “I’ve really enjoyed her four years here. She is a terrific student-athlete and somebody that I have been very fortunate to have gotten to know and watch her grow as a player and a person during her time at Wilkes.”
Women’s soccer will return to the field in the fall of 2022.