Women’s soccer continues to dominate with two weekend wins ahead of UAA play

and | Contributing Reporter and Senior Sports Editor
A soccer player in a white jersey extends her right foot to kick a white and red soccer ball. Her left foot curls behind her as she nearly parallels the ground and her blond hair flows above her head. A player in a blue uniform stands on the left side, moving to the left.

Senior Jess Shapiro launches a shot toward the Wheaton goal Friday night. Shapiro’s shot nicked off the crossbar, but sophomore Tyler Wilson soon found the goal to put the Bears ahead for good. (Photo by Curran Neenan | Student Life)

With University Athletic Association games beginning next week, the No. 3 Washington University women’s soccer team remained undefeated this weekend, improving to 7-0-1 after a 2-0 victory over Wheaton College and a 1-0 win over Rose-Hulman College. 

As has become a theme for them, WashU was in control for much of the first half against Wheaton despite not scoring. The Bears’ best chance came in the 17th minute when senior Jess Shapiro hit the crossbar on her strike. Despite not putting it in the net, however, head coach Stephanie Gabbert was impressed with the first half performance. “I think we were playing well in the first half and creating a lot of great opportunities like we have in all of our games,” Gabbert said. “We just weren’t finishing, so it was more about getting our players to focus and be more composed.” The Bears have scored only 30% of their goals this season in the first half, a number they hope to increase as the season moves along. 

After a scoreless first half, sophomore Tyler Wilson finally broke through with a put-back goal in the 60th minute. This was Wilson’s fourth goal in the past five games, and she leads the team with four goals on the season. Gabbert has been impressed with Wilson’s work ethic thus far in the season. “She just works so hard and she understands the game and where she needs to be,” Gabbert said.

Senior Emily Kaufman added an insurance goal with a penalty kick in the 69th minute, and WashU comfortably closed out Wheaton in the final 20 minutes.

Overall, Gabbert thought this was the team’s best game they played all season and the best opponent the team has faced all season. WashU dominated the shot chart, out-shooting Wheaton 25-4, with 13 shots on goal. 

The Bears defense dominated again, pitching a shutout and only allowing two shots on goal. Gabbert was proud of the defense for staying in structure. “I think our defense is doing a great job of being more organized and limiting opportunities,” she said.

Sunday’s match against the undefeated Rose-Hulman started with a bang, as sophomore Kate Flynn found the net off a pass from her sister, senior Erin Flynn, in the second minute to put WashU up 1-0 early — the goal was the first of Flynn’s WashU career. 

From there, WashU rode strong defense and talented midfield play for the next 88 minutes to a sound 1-0 win over the Fightin’ Engineers. The Bears had several close opportunities on goal and tested Rose-Hulman’s goalie on multiple occasions, but even though the shots didn’t connect, the pressure was enough to overwhelm their opponent. Rose-Hulman had only one shot on goal for the entire game, which sophomore keeper Sidney Conner promptly saved. 

Possession and forward ball movement for the Bears highlighted what has become their standard winning strategy this season. WashU has led in shots taken and shots on goal in every one of their games this year, and rarely do they find themselves being pressured heavily or consistently by an opposing attack. The Bears outshot Rose-Hulman 18-3 in this matchup, and this skewed mark has held true for nearly every other game this season. It speaks to the team’s ability not only to pressure on attack but to stifle opponents’ attacks before they even reach the last line of defense. 

The next two weeks will feature the toughest slate of opponents WashU has faced thus far. The team’s ability to keep up their dominating style of play will be a point of interest as more talented teams attempt to break through their front. 

The next time the Bears step on the field will be next Saturday, as they travel to New York for their first UAA matchup of the season against the University of Rochester.


Some favorite StudLife sports features from the era of pandemic sports:

WU runners pen letter to NCAA in support of transgender athletes

Together, on and off the court: How WU’s married women’s basketball coaches make it work

We ranked the University Athletic Association mascots three different ways

 

 

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