Women’s soccer beats trio to stay undefeated
The Washington University women’s soccer team continues to look the part of defending champions through a dominant first few games of the season. This week, the team notched impressive wins against the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Pomona-Pitzer Colleges and Millikin University to stay undefeated on for the year.
On Thursday, the team began their three-game home stand against Rose-Hulman. Before 15 minutes had passed, Wash. U. already looked to have a clear advantage, getting the ball into the box for strong shot chances. In the 18th minute, junior midfielder Darcy Cunningham sent a zinger towards the top left corner that was narrowly saved. The ensuing corner kick found the foot of junior back Hannah Menard in a sea of bodies, but a quick reaction by the Rose-Hulman goalie kept the score at 0-0. Despite the offensive opportunities, the first half ended with no scoring.
After halftime, the Bears continued the offensive excellence of the first half, finally converting a shot opportunity early. A beautifully-placed shot by junior midfielder Caroline Dempsey off of a feed from Menard gave the Bears the lead in the 49th minute. The pace of the attack didn’t cease after the goal; after a series of barely missed opportunities, senior forward Rachel Mickelson sent in a glorious shot from outside the box that curled under the bar to push the lead to 2-0. The team outshot Rose-Hulman 39-0 and started off their weekend on the right foot.
The Red and Green retained their impressive form on Saturday against Pomona-Pitzer. Cunningham excelled at distributing the ball, setting up her teammates for assists on all three of the team’s goals. Meanwhile, standout sophomore forward Taylor Cohen recorded her second multi-goal game of the season.
The scoring started earlier than in the first two games of the season, when Cohen sent a corner kick from Cunningham into the back of the net in the third minute. Pomona-Pitzer answered in the 17th, weaving through the Bear defense and drilling a shot just above the head of sophomore goalkeeper Katy Hudson to equalize the score. The first half was mostly an even contest, with no side gaining a serious advantage in shots or possession. But with 2.3 seconds remaining in the half, junior midfielder Maggie Crist headed home a corner from Cunningham to give the Bears the lead. This would be the deciding goal.
In the second half, the Bears looked more in control. Cunningham beat two defenders down the sideline and sent in a beautiful pass to Cohen for an easy finish on a goal that helped cement the victory. After both teams shot five times in the first 45 minutes, Wash. U. controlled the ball a bit more in the second, ending the game with an 11-8 shot advantage.
The team closed the weekend with a thorough dismantling of Millikin. In the 17th minute, Cohen put a free kick from freshman goalkeeper Emma Greenfield into the back of the net. Greenfield assisted on another goal 13 minutes later, when another free kick found freshman forward Elise DeConinck for a breakaway goal. The team’s defense smothered Millikin, denying shot opportunities and controlling possession throughout the game.
The second half was as dominant as the first. Cohen scored an unassisted goal in the 50th minute, then senior midfielder Alison Cerny and freshman forward Ellie Moreland added their own in the 78th to push the score to 5-0. The team outshot Millikin by a wide margin of 38-3 and never looked out of rhythm once the whistle blew.
Through four games, the team has looked sharp on both sides of the ball. Concerns about the defense have been all but muted by the emergence of Menard and Crist as well as senior back Kelly Von Zup. Questions at goal still remain, but both Hudson’s and Greenfield’s solid outings so far this season have quelled those worries for now.
The offensive side of the game is where the team has shined so far. Assists and goals have seemed to originate from everyone from the back line to the forwards.
“I’ve think they’ve been committed to keeping the ball and finding whoever is open, not just forcing it to one woman,” head coach Jim Conlon said. “I think the more we can spread the ball around, the more we can get different goal scorers.”
With a potent defense and an offense that’s clicking, the title defense appears to be in full swing.