The Bearkats soccer team is a program that has earned many accomplishments since its establishment in 2003, but in recent years, seniors Allie Johnson, Megan Bennett, Maddie Gangi, Maddy Panozzo, Kylie Dick, Jordan Jarzombeck and Madison Cannon have helped lead the team to some of the program’s most successful moments.
Last year, the group of seven contributed to the program’s first 10- win season, and in 2014, they group helped lead the team to a runner-up finish in the Southland Conference Tournament. In total, the graduating seniors contributed to 30 program victories.
“There is not one specific thing the group has done,” head coach Tom Brown said. “But over the past four years they have played a significant role in the success that we have had.”
The heptad has helped record multiple records for the program, including the record for most goals scored in SLC play with 23 in 2014 and the most season shutouts with nine in 2015.
Each senior has also had individual triumphs that helped contribute to the overall success of the program.
Last season, forward Allie Johnson scored the game winning goal in the SLC tournament semifinals against Houston Baptist University, which sent the Bearkats to their first championship match in 10 years.
The Allen native also made her mark in the program’s record book. Johnson holds the record for consecutive games scoring a goal with five and shots taken in a single Southland match with nine. She also led the team in goals this season and completed her career as a Bearkat with 24 individual goals, just three goals shy of the programs record of 27.
To add to Johnson’s resume, this season she was named to the All-Southland Post Season Honors second tem team, honorable mentions in 2015 and to the first team in 2014.
Also joining Johnson on the ASPSH is defensive player Megan Bennett. Bennett was also named to the second team for the 2016 season and honorable mentions for both 2014 and 2013.
Last season Bennett played a key role in the Bearkats defense, which closed the season as the second best defense in the league in shutouts and goals allowed per game. The midfielder also scored a crucial goal in a 2-2 tie against Abilene Christian, and in 2014, she put the team ahead of Nicholls State with a goal in the season’s final game.
“I’m going to miss representing my school and the relationships I’ve built over the past four years,” Bennett said. “ But I have really enjoyed playing and training everyday.”
Also contributing to the defensive effort is defensive player Maddie Gangi. The Frisco native started in two games this season, while last season she played in nine and took a season high of two shots.
Forward Maddy Panozzo notched 13 shots with five on goal this season, and in a match against Lamar University last season, the California native scored the game winning goal in a 1-0 victory. In her sophomore season, Panozzo tied for second on the team with three assists.
“As a collection, they are a pretty interesting group of personalities,” Brown said. “ They are very enjoyable to be around, they treated their teammates well and they made sure players did not feel left out.”
Another California native, forward Kylie Dick, had two assists last season in matches against the University of Texas at San Antonio and Abilene Christian and tallied 22 career shots.
Forward Jordan Jarzombeck scored the game winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Stephen F. Austin last season. The forward also scored the lone goal in a game against Southern Methodist University and played in all three league tournament matches. This season, Jarzombeck took eight shots with one on goal.
While forward Madison Cannon was only a part of the Bearkats for two seasons, she made her presence known. Last season, Cannon scored the game winning goal in a match against McNeese State University where the Bearkats won 2-1. Cannon was tied for third on the team with 36 shots last season and has taken a career total of 48.
The Bearkats concluded the 2016 season with an overall record of 2-16-1 and an SLC record of 2-8-1. They will not compete in the conference championship tournament this season. The main reason for the unexpected down fall in the team’s performance this season was a historic 10-game road trip at the start of the season. The Bearkats matched up against schools like the University of Texas, the University of Alabama, Rice University and Central Arkansas, who is first in the SLC.
“On the front end it ended up being more difficult than it was,” Brown said. “It wasn’t quite what we hoped, but hopefully the team has learned something and will make them better prepared for next season.”
This year’s class of graduating seniors was a historic group. Like all athletes, they had their ups and downs, but most importantly, they’ve etched their legacies and helped form the culture that is Sam Houston State soccer today.