With only 13 players on its active roster, this year’s Goshen College women’s soccer team is struggling to keep team numbers up. 

Newcomers Savannah Roth-Walter, junior, and Olivia Krall, sophomore, opted out due to safety concerns regarding COVID-19, and three more team members were forced into remote-learning in their home nation of Brazil.

Last year’s team roster totaled 22.

According to the team’s head coach, Justin Crew, adjusting to the lack of players has been incredibly difficult.

“This is a very unique and unprecedented year,” Crew said. “Our low numbers this year are because of the pandemic. We have a full roster, it’s just that right now not everyone on the roster is playing this fall.” 

With decreased numbers, starters will have to remain on the field for longer stretches of time, though Crew believes this issue can be easily combated with a change in the team’s training. 

“We have been doing a lot of strength and conditioning and specific injury prevention exercises with the team,” he said. “We are also very intentional with our fitness training. Most of the players are going to play a lot of minutes, but this is a great group and I believe they will be up for it.” 

While the roster currently has enough active members to participate at a slightly altered level, no plan has been set in place in the extreme condition that the team does not boast enough players to compete. The minimum number of players necessary for the team to continue operating is 11. 

Despite juggling the day-to-day duties and training responsibilities as head coach, Crew continues to prioritize safety.

“It is unfortunate that we are missing players because of the need to opt out of the season or because they are still stuck overseas, but we absolutely want everyone to be safe and healthy,” he said. “The hope is our roster will be full again this spring.”

The women’s team is one season removed from a 7-9-1 overall record, their best finish since going 9-9 in 2013. This past season also featured a 5-4 home record, but the team struggled within the Crossroads League, going 2-6-1 in conference contests. 

The impact of players opting out and forced remote-learning has yet to be seen in-game. The Maple Leafs kick off their season with a Crossroads League matchup against rival Bethel University Sept.16, at 7:00 p.m.