Seven years ago, the only soccer at Mines was the Men’s team practicing on the Intramural fields just west of campus. The next year, the Lady Orediggers were awarded a varsity soccer team. That year Mines finished a respectable 7-8 despite limited equipment and no real practice facility.
Now in their seventh season, the Lady Orediggers have wasted no time in their rise to success. They finished 14-2-1 overall and 19-2-1 in the RMAC, good enough for second place. In a dramatic overtime thriller in the RMAC Tournament, Mines defeated Fort Lewis on penalty kicks to advance to their first ever RMAC Championship game. In the championship, Mines shutout Colorado Mesa 2-0 to claim the program’s first RMAC Tournament Championship and earn a #1 seed in the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament.
The accomplishments of the 2011 season must be attributed to the entire team, but during the late run it is impossible to ignore the stellar play by goalkeeper Penny Rogers. Rogers, a senior in mechanical engineering, suffered a broken finger that sidelined her for half of the season. She returned in strong fashion, making six saves and allowing only one goal in the RMAC Tournament, earning her the title of RMAC Tournament MVP. For her success and her part in building a perennial powerhouse, Rogers is this week’s Athlete of the Week.
[Oredigger] What was going through your head when you won the overtime thriller against Ft. Lewis?
[Rogers] It was weird. Penalty kicks usually scare me and make me so nervous, but, before, my coach just came up to me and said, “Penny, just be ice cold.” I don’t know why, but that is the calmest I’ve been and I just went out there.
I actually didn’t know when we won. I looked away for our kicks, because I didn’t want it to affect my play. I just trusted my teammates and tried to do my job.
What do you love about playing goalie?
It’s just that intense moment. That feeling when you save an impossible shot that no one thinks you can save. It’s that adrenaline rush.
How did you start playing goalie?
I’ve almost always played goalie, since I was like, ten. The coach just asked who wanted to play it, and I just tried it. It was the most fun I’ve ever had, even though my mom was always scared that I would get hurt with all the shots coming at me.
What is it like to watch the program grow so much so fast?
It’s been crazy. We haven’t just gotten better skill level-wise, but… all over. We didn’t even have a field at first, so getting all the support that we have, it’s been amazing.
What has made this team special?
You know, it’s been so great. I’ve played on several teams and this is honestly the closest team I’ve been a part of. It’s like a family; we don’t have cliques and we all share the same goals and support each other outside of soccer.
Being a senior, what is it like to see the end in sight?
It hasn’t hit me yet, but I know I’m not going to be ready. I’ll probably play adult league soccer but it won’t be the same. I had such a great experience here.
How do you stay focused with school and soccer?
I try to have as much of a social life as I can. I know that’s sort of a joke here, but still. I was an RA last year, and I just try to do… fun things outside of soccer to keep me sane.
What has been your favorite class?
Even though it’s crazy right now, Advanced Mechanics of Materials.The professor is just really stoked about teaching it.
Tie between chemistry and fluids. Those were just bad news bears.
If you could change one thing at Mines…?
Oh my goodness… I guess it would be the course load, if I could spread it out a little more.
What advice would you give yourself if you were an incoming freshman?
Go to tutoring. Office hours.