Women’s soccer secures solid victory over Millikin ahead of Tennessee tourney

| Contributing Reporter
Two women's soccer players, one on the left wearing white and one on the right wearing a purple jersey, chase after a soccer ball near the 20-yard line of a football field.

Sophomore Tyler Wilson (left), who scored the Bears’ first goal Wednesday night, chases after the ball against Loras last Saturday. (Photo by Zoe Oppenheimer | Student Life)

The Washington University women’s soccer team decisively beat Millikin University in a 3-1 match on Wednesday to improve to 3-0-1 on the season. 

WashU played with authority over the ball and an aggressive offense for most of the game, with the win serving as preparation for two matches at the W Challenge in Memphis, Tenn., this weekend. 

Coming off an offensive torrent in their 7-1 victory over Carthage College last Sunday, the Bears again came in strong, bombarding the Millikan keeper with several shots in the first minutes of the game but not quite managing to score. After several attempts, the dam finally broke, courtesy of sophomore Tyler Wilson in the 18th minute.

They only managed to hold onto this edge for 10 minutes, however. Despite an initial block by WashU goalie Sidney Conner in the 28th minute, Millikin’s Maddy Wood was able to quickly regain control of the ball amid several WashU defenders and score off the deflection, evening the scoreboard. For the rest of the first half, WashU continued to execute an assertive strategy, which was again demonstrated in the 38th minute when Erin Flynn successfully placed a penalty shot in the net, putting the score at 2-1 going into halftime.  

The Bears reemerged as fierce as ever following halftime, with two shots in the first minute of the second half. They only managed to extend their lead once in the half, when sophomore Kate Flynn crossed the ball to senior Ariana Miles, but their consistent push on offense and strong defensive front maintained their two-score lead for the rest of the match. 

The WashU women were constantly on the offense, with head coach Stephanie Gabbert moving from a formation with two attackers to three late in the game to place pressure on Millikan’s defense. “We tried to play to our strengths,” Gabbert said, as besides the change in positions, “we didn’t make too many adjustments for them.”

One of those strengths involved taking shots when they had them, which Gabbert says has been a consistent strategy this season. The Bears did just that, with 23 shots to Millikin’s two. Yet, with 13 not being on goal, Gabbert wants to focus more on shooting going into their next games. “I would be happier with the result if we would have finished more of our chances, because we had a lot of opportunities in the first half and we didn’t score,” she said. “We just have to be better about placing the ball where we want it to go and keeping it on frame.”

WashU’s defense, on the other hand, received limited action. This included goalkeeper Conner, one of the several goalies that Gabbert has been rotating through goal as she experiments early in the season. 

This weekend’s road trip will be the farthest the Bears have traveled this year. They face the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater this afternoon and another yet-to-be-determined team tomorrow.

Weekend reads from the StudLife sports desk:

Ringing up the curtain: Inside the decade-long push to display the iconic Olympic symbol

Baseball sends Durbin and Loutos to Braves, Cardinals in historic draft day

From chasing a championship to searching for closure: Men’s basketball’s final week, in the Bears’ own words, Part 1

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