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PRESS PHOTO BY PATRICK JACOBY PHOTOGRAPHYRahel Medlar changed positions to help her DeSales University team this fall. Copyright - Patrick Jacoby 2018 PRESS PHOTO BY PATRICK JACOBY PHOTOGRAPHYRahel Medlar changed positions to help her DeSales University team this fall. Copyright - Patrick Jacoby 2018

Medlar excels in new role at DSU

Thursday, December 6, 2018 by TODD KRESS in Sports

Rachel Medlar played pretty much her entire soccer career, all the way back to her youth days, as a midfielder. But things changed for the former Trojan this past season, despite posting a historic freshman collegiate season in 2017.

In an effort to generate more scoring, DeSales head coach Greg Ridout moved Medlar up to forward for the Bulldogs midway through this past season. She found plenty of success once again, scoring three goals and adding six assists for 12 points, good for second-best on the team.

“Obviously every year brings a new team,” Medlar said. “My freshmen year, I was able to connect really well with one of our forwards, and she brought me so much of my success for my first year. I definitely missed her on the field, but we had so many new great players come in.”

During Medlar’s historic freshman season that saw her break the single-season school record for assists with 15, she generated a strong bond with forward Angelica Bertola. Bertola scored 25 goals for the Bulldogs in 2017, and Medlar was a big part in setting up DeSales’ all-time leading goal-scorer. Bertola leads DeSales with 56 career goals.

But needing a boost midway through this fall, Medlar was asked to slide into a new position and role. She certainly provided a boost in the scoring department and helped lead DeSales (8-8-2 overall, 5-2 in Landmark Conference) to the conference semifinals before its season came to an end against Wilkes University.

“She [Bertola] definitely was my go-to last year, but we had a bunch of new forwards come in and it was really nice to connect with our players,” Medlar said. “The freshmen who came in were able to jump into the team so quickly, and everybody connected so quickly.

“We were having some trouble putting the ball in the back of the net. I’m a player who distributes the ball a lot; I look to my teammates to score before I look to score. Coach was moving a lot of players around. It just so happened that we had a lot of great freshman midfielders come in.”

While the position was certainly unfamiliar territory, Medlar eventually became accustomed to it and felt comfortable in no time. It’s unclear whether or not she’ll move back to midfield in 2019 or stay at the forward position.

“It was really cool to just have more space to be creative with the ball, and being able to take players one-on-one,” Medlar said. “As the season went on, my confidence picked up with that. It was a new experience but it ended up being a great experience.”

Medlar, despite moving to forward for half of this season, will always be a gifted facilitator on the pitch. She once again led the Bulldogs in assists this season and now has 21 for her career, currently ranked second on the all-time list behind Jessica Wetherhold, who graduated in 2016.

“I wasn’t expecting anything to happen whatsoever,” Medlar said. “To be honest I had no idea the amount of assists I had. I hadn’t kept track. I was just playing game-by-game. I wasn’t expecting [Landmark Conference] Rookie of the Year at all. I wasn’t expecting any of it. It was really, really cool to see that happen.”

Medlar, despite only being a sophomore, was also named a captain this past season. To her, it was her biggest accomplishment out of everything.

Now, she’s hoping to lift the Bulldogs beyond the Landmark Conference semifinals in 2019.

“Our saying is that our standard is perfection,” Medlar said. “We were expecting to go into playoffs, as we always do, because we want to be a championship team. Unfortunately, our season ended in semifinals, the same game it ended in last year. Of course we were disappointed with the way the season ended, but from the day after we lost we had a turnaround, and we’re already working to be better next year.”