ATCHISON, Kan. — Benedictine College women’s soccer struggled to finish seasons with a winning record. That was until 15 years ago, when Lincoln Roblee took over as head coach.

Since 2005, the program has grown in interest and success.

“The program builds every single year. We have outstanding athletes that represent Benedictine College,” Roblee said.

The No. 5 Ravens finished last season with an overall record of 20-2-2. The team has won the Heart of America Athletic Conference regular-season championship nine of the last 10 years and has advanced to the NAIA Championship quarterfinals in five straight seasons.

The Ravens opened up the 2019 season ranked fifth after the NAIA released the Preseason Top 25 Coaches’ Poll.

After losing several seniors to graduation, the younger players on the team have stepped up.

“We have a lot of freshmen that have potential,” Benedictine senior Nicole Kelly said. “I have no doubt in my mind that after my class leaves they will fill those roles as well.”

Benedictine has started off this season strong with an early record of 3-0. The Ravens opened up the season with a 9-0 victory against Sterling College. Kelly, an All-American, scored the first goal of the season for her team during the eighth minute.

Three days later, the Ravens defeated No. 3 Southeastern College 4-3 in extra time.

“It was a tough win, but we never gave up on each other and we all fought for each other the whole time,” Benedictine senior Emily Ambuul said. “Everyone’s doing very well.”

Ambuul was named the Heart Women’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week after the Ravens’ two wins in the opening week. The All-American scored two goals and two assists off six shots against Sterling. Against Southeastern, Ambuul finished with one goal and two assists.

The Ravens said their success on the field isn’t entirely built while on it.

“We try to focus on being the best people we can be first before we focus on soccer,” Kelly said. “It goes back to being there for eachother and being the best we can be, whether it be in the classroom or on the field.”

Roblee’s teams have consistently earned recognition from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America with numerous Team Academic and Team Ethics Awards. For the last three years, the selection for the National Scholar Athlete of the Year has been on Roblee’s soccer squad.

He believes the program;s aspiration to be the best on and off the field has grabbed the attention of young soccer players.

“We want to have the best character and have everyone respect us for not just how we play, but how we act. If we do that, then hopefully they reciprocate and want to be apart of something.”

Benedictine continues their season today in Nebraska against No. 12 Hastings College.

Kristen Carver can be reached

at kristen.carver@newspressnow.com,

Follow her on Twitter: @NPNowCarver