#6 women’s soccer continues winning ways with 5-0 victory in home opener

| Sports Editor

Women’s soccer has scored 13 goals in their last two games while collecting two shutouts. (Daniel Huinda | Student Life)

“We have a lot of work to do to get where we’ve got to go, but the best way of learning is learning while winning,” said Coach Jim Conlon in his message to the Washington University women’s soccer team following their home opener against Carroll University on Friday afternoon. If the best way of learning includes winning, then the 10th ranked squad in the country has definitely learned a lot through three games.

Through those three games, they’ve already scored 15 goals, a feat that took them 13 matches to accomplish last season. In addition, with the 5-0 win against Carroll University Friday, the Bears jumped out to a 3-0 record, their best start to a season since 2018. That year, the team didn’t lose a game until the NCAA semifinals.

While the red-hot attack may draw many headlines, the squad’s rock-solid back line is just as deserving of praise. They still have not conceded a goal this season and held Carroll to just one shot on target all game. Making the feat even more impressive is the fact that Friday’s game marked the season debut for a number of key players, including senior goalkeeper Sidney Conner, who was unable to compete in last weekend’s road trip game.

When asked about the team’s defense, Conlon said he’s very proud of the team’s performance and that to be sitting with “3-0 with three clean sheets really is a testament to the team, the unselfishness, and doing whatever is asked of them on any given day.”

The unselfishness Conlon mentioned extends to the team’s forwards as well. Their 15 goals have been scored by nine different goalscorers, and all five goals on Friday were scored by different players. 

From the jump, the Bears outplayed the visiting Pioneers. However, despite controlling possession for the first 40 minutes, the hosts’ best chance rolled onto the post and bounced back out. Just when it looked like the teams would go into the halftime break tied, however, WashU finally struck gold. When a loose ball bounced around the box with two minutes left in the half, sophomore Grace Ehlert pounced, slotting the ball past the blue-jerseyed defenders and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. 

The momentum continued into the second half. Five minutes in, senior Anna Viscovich whipped in a corner kick. When the goalkeeper bobbled the cross, chaos ensued, but graduate student Ally Hackett was in the right spot to deflect the ball into the goal for her first goal of the season. Less than ten minutes later, Viscovich also earned herself a spot on the score sheet. After turning away from a defender outside the box, the midfielder unleashed a right-footed strike into the bottom right corner of the net to make it 3-0.

In the 70th minute, the Bears extended their lead on a fortunate bounce. After Kaci Karl’s strike hit the crossbar, it ricocheted off of the back of the outstretched goalie’s head and into the goal. A few minutes later, junior Meryl McKenna tacked on the Bears’ final goal with a strike from outside the box. Although the keeper got a hand on it, she couldn’t keep it out of the top corner, and McKenna had her third goal of the season, joint-most on the team.

With three minutes left, first-year forward Julia Moore earned a penalty kick, but was unable to convert for her first career college goal. The shot was meaningless, however, as the Bears rode their 5-0 lead to the finish line.

“We have a lot of depth, and there’s a lot of trust in every player that steps on the field,” said McKenna, who subbed in during the second half. “We’re able to rotate in, and really just put other teams under and run at them. Our goal is just to kind of keep this energy going… Ultimately, we’re trying to win another UAA championship. And then looking for the national championship, that’s always our goal.”

The Bears hope to keep the dominance rolling into their matchups against tougher opposition. Next week, they will host two teams who are also currently undefeated when they face off against DePauw University on Friday and Rhodes College on Sunday. Though the team will need to keep pushing themselves to keep their winning streak alive, they have a lot to celebrate two weeks into a campaign that has the potential to include a deep postseason run. 

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