Women’s soccer gets off to strong start, shuts out No. 22 Loras, Augsburg
For the eighth year in a row, the Washington University women’s soccer team kicked off the season 2-0. This weekend, the Bears picked up a pair of road shutout wins over No. 22 Loras College and Augsburg University, 3-0 and 2-0, respectively.
The Bears opened play on a hot Friday in Dubuque, Iowa afternoon against Loras—head coach Jim Conlon’s alma mater. Conlon, while reflective with regards to his time at Loras, still saw the team’s time in Iowa as a business trip.
“It’s always great to come back,” Conlon said. “Loras will always be a special place to me because it’s where I went to college, but we came up here to get a win.”
Throughout the match, Wash. U. dominated possession of the ball; however, the breakthrough did not come until the 68th minute, when two midfielders teamed up to put the Red and Green on top. Freshman Erin Flynn played a beautiful ball into the box, where senior Darcy Cunningham kept her composure and slotted it away to put the Bears up 1-0.
With Loras threatening on the counter attack, the Bears pushed for a second goal to put the game to bed. Throughout the rest of the half, Wash. U. continued to put pressure on the tiring Loras defense, firing off shots that would force multiple saves from Loras goalkeeper Kaylee Coble.
The tiring Loras defense is exactly what the Bears were hoping for. Conlon stated that the team’s game plan heading into the match was to “possess the ball and make the other team chase,” in an attempt to wear out their opponents.
“Once they got tired, we were able to find little cracks [in the Loras defense],” Conlon said. “When your opponents have to chase the ball, they get tired…So, we were able to put those goals away in the second half.”
The Bears came agonizingly close to a second goal in the 79th minute, as another freshman midfielder, Ariana Miles, fired a shot off of the crossbar, but the Loras defense continued to hold on. Then, in the 83rd minute, Wash. U. finally found its second goal, as senior midfielder Caroline Dempsey scored off of a beautiful cross from Miles.
After finally getting that second goal, the flood gates opened, as the Bears grabbed a third just minutes later. A third freshman midfielder, Jess Shapiro, scored off of a rebound from sophomore forward Kristen Reikersdorfer, making the score 3-0.
While the offense was not able to put one away until the 68th minute, Wash. U. kept the pressure on throughout the whole game, outshooting Loras 17-1. The Bears also put on a defensive clinic, not allowing a single shot on goal, with sophomore goalkeeper Emma Greenfield picking up her first shutout of the season. According to Conlon, the organization of their defensive line helped them win the day. With Loras opting for a very direct style of play, Conlon explained that the defensive line did an “amazing job” at two things: “winning the first header,” which kept the ball away from the Loras strikers, and “dropping the ball back to their goalkeeper,” which relieved pressure.
After a day of rest, Wash. U. closed out their Labor Day weekend Sunday at Augsburg in Minneapolis, Min. Determined to finish the weekend two for two, the Red and Green offense continued to put the pressure on early, outshooting Augsburg 12-2 in the first half.
However, just like against Loras, the Bears did not find the breakthrough until the second half. In the 53rd minute, freshman forward Marissa Kalkar fired a shot off the post, and junior forward Taylor Cohen intuitively followed in and scored off of the rebound.
At this point, the Bears found themselves in a very similar situation as that of their previous game: They knew they would need a second goal to put the game away. Throughout the rest of the second half, the Bears continued to make the Augsburg defense fight to keep the game within reach, outshooting Augsburg 14-2 for the second half, and 26-4 for the match. Then in the 82nd minute, Kalkar put away a much-needed second goal, with the match ending 2-0.
After the successful opening weekend, the Bears will prepare for their home opener against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Friday at 7:30 p.m.