By Todd Stanford
For The Daily Item
On Oct. 11, there was a Heartland Athletic Conference reunion in, of all places, Lexington, Ky.
That's where two former Daily Item Girls Soccer Players of the Year met on the collegiate pitch, as Caitlin Landis' Kentucky Wildcats played host to Cheyenne Spade's Tennessee Volunteers.
Landis' Kentucky side pulled out a 4-1 victory, with Landis scoring a goal and pocketing two assists. But this story is about how two women from the Central Susquehanna Valley have come to thrive in one of the top collegiate conferences for women's soccer.
Landis, the all-time leading goal scorer in Milton High School history, is a senior forward for the Wildcats. She's played in every game the past three seasons, and has four goals and four assists this year, putting her fourth on the team in goals, assists and points.
Although Kentucky fell to Ole Miss in the SEC quarterfinals Wednesday, Landis' collegiate career isn't done yet. She found out Monday that the Wildcats (13-6-1) got an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament with a first-round home game Friday against Ohio State (10-6-3).
"It is definitely a surreal feeling to be almost done with college soccer," Landis wrote in an e-mail. "I have learned so much and have enjoyed every second at the University of Kentucky. I am so blessed to be able to meet and play with such an amazing, talented group of girls and coaches. I'm going to miss them tremendously."
Spade, a junior for Tennessee who spent the first two years of her career at North Carolina State (she transferred after a coaching change), is likewise keeping her fingers crossed that the Volunteers get an at-large bid Monday. Tennessee (8-7-4) did not qualify for the 12-team SEC tourney, but the Vols have impressive wins this season over Central Florida (currently ranked 17th in the nation by SoccerTimes.com), Texas A&M (22nd) and Ole Miss (25th).