Having put together their winningest season in program history, the Southern Utah University women’s soccer team ended 2022 as a year to remember.
Prior to conference play, the Thunderbirds started the season 5-1. They outscored opponents 23-3 in those six games, which included their highest-scoring game ever when they defeated Mississippi Valley State University 10-0. The season slowed down after that despite picking up four more wins, and they ultimately ended the season 9-6-2. With a conference record of 4-5-2, they finished eighth in the Western Athletic Conference, falling just short of the top six teams that advanced to the conference tournament.
The offense was led primarily by newcomers Sammie Sofonia and Whitney Wangsgard, who scored seven and six goals, respectively. After her first season on the field, Wangsgard, who also had four assists, is now tied for third all-time in single season points for SUU with 16. Wangsgard was also one of two defenders in the conference to be named to the Freshman All-WAC Team.
Redshirt sophomore Megan Short had a strong season as goalkeeper. For the majority of the season, she ranked top 10 in the nation in save percentage. She ended with a percentage of 0.816 while collecting 93 saves. She was just under her personal best of 94 for saves in a season, which she set the previous year. After just two seasons of play, she now ranks fourth on the all-time career saves list with 187.
Two other stand-out players this season were Kate Schirmer and Hailey Hamataka. Schirmer scored four goals with three assists, equating to 11 total points. She maintained a shot on goal percentage of 0.500, her second best for a single season. Hamataka put up 10 points on the season, coming from three goals and four assists. All three of her goals were eventual game-winners.
The Thunderbirds said goodbye to three players following the end of the season. Kate Schirmer, Julia Hunt and Rachael Hunt all plan to graduate before the 2023 season. Schirmer played three seasons and 2,768 minutes for SUU with 13 goals and seven assists, tying for fifth on the career goals list. She came to Southern Utah after competing in the 2019 season with the Bears of Snow College, where she had an outstanding freshman season. Julia Hunt joined the team in the fall of 2021. The Cedar City native played two seasons and 28 games with the Thunderbirds. Rachael Hunt, also from Cedar City, played for three seasons and was a starting player for all three. She had 3,114 minutes of service in SUU red.
The team was led by head coach Kai Edwards and assistant coach Steven Lindquist. Edwards began coaching college soccer in 2004 and was hired at SUU prior to the 2020 season. He met Lindquist during his brief time coaching at Oakland University, and they were reunited when Edwards brought him onto the staff in 2021.
After setting the program record for most wins in a season while being led by two first-year players, the SUU women’s soccer team has a bright future ahead of them.
Story by: Anden Garfield
Photos by: Treyson Andersen