Women's Soccer Senior Night: Strength of the Lion is in its Pride (VIDEO)
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics

The Columbia University women's soccer team will honor all four of its seniors on Saturday night prior to the 7 p.m. match against Dartmouth at Columbia Soccer Stadium. Senior Lindsay Danielson, an English major and a goalkeeper for the Lions, checks in with gocolumbialions.com prior to her final home match.

The day is almost here. The day when we four seniors -- Lauren Cooke, Lindsay Danielson, Kelly Hostetler, and Keri Nobil -- walk out onto our home pitch to compete for the last time of our college careers. It is the final time we will listen to our carefully selected warm-up mix, the final time we will feel the excitement of playing underneath the lights in front of a home crowd.  It is the final time we will dress in our locker before a home game and the final time our names will be called, with perfect emphasis and intonation by our media specialist, Dan Lobacz.  Although each of these things brings with it some emotion, it is not a sad time for we seniors.  Rather it is a time filled with incredible appreciation, unparalleled desire to leave our mark. 

Each player that enters into the locker room for the first time does so teeming with a mixture of anticipation for what is to come, excitement for being in college, and an individual dedication to leave behind something great.  Each team that dons the Columbia Blue brings something unique to the table.  Every team brings the expectation and the determination to give everything and anything to win the Ivy League championship.  Soccer, or any college sport for that matter, becomes so much more than it ever was in high school; it is closer to a full-time job - I hesitate to title it job because that implies the resistant obligation to fulfill the responsibilities that go along with it.  At times, days are long, sleep is little, and stress is abundant.  There is always a meeting, a practice, a lift, a treatment session, a run, or a bus up to Baker Athletics Complex.  And, if there is not one of the aforementioned items there is class, a meeting with a professor or study group, a discussion section, or a long night of reading ahead. 

But, it is expected that you juggle each of these things, expected that you succeed.  Honestly, for me, the only way that I have done so is with the help of my team, my family away from home.  When I walked into the locker room I never expected to gain a family such as the one I have, especially this year.  These are the unexpected aspects; the ones that make you look back and forget about all of those long nights of stress, frustration, and self-doubt.  Looking back at the past four years you see the smiles, remember the times that made you laugh, reflect on the times that made you cry, and in doing so, you realize, this family has been here for you all along, 

This is what I feel - and I believe it is safe to say I speak for each of the seniors - each time I am around my team, my sisters.  They have been there to make me smile, have said things to make me laugh, and have wiped away the tears when I have cried.  They have picked me up in both practice and in life, and for that I am forever grateful.  The same goes for each of the seniors, and tomorrow night, we will give everything to come out at the end of our fight against Dartmouth victorious. 

Yes, as seniors we feel the gravity of time bearing down on us, but that is all it is, a feeling.  We are harnessing the little time left to serve as a motivation to literally leave everything out on the field.  There are three games left in our regular season; each game is our opportunity, as seniors, to leave behind a mark of who we are and what we stand for both on and off the field.  This season has been about our team, our family, and the realization of the innumerable things one group of determined women are able to accomplish.  Dartmouth will not be an easy game, no Ivy League game ever is.  Each team lays it all out on the line to come out victorious when the final whistle blows, but we possess something special, an unbreakable connectedness. 

They say the strength of the Lion is in the pride, and this year, our collective strength is unparalleled.