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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Soccer teams push for MIAC titles: Women run unbeaten streak to 11, trail only Concordia in standings

<rleton Women’s Soccer team juggled a lot this past weekend with visiting families and back-to-back games but finished on a high note. After playing at Augsburg for the full duration of two overtimes that ended in the team’s first tie of this season, the Knights channeled their frustration into their second game and secured a decisive non-conference win over UW-Eau Claire.

As the sun set behind the Minneapolis skyline on Saturday, the Knights took the field for their first night game against conference foe Augsburg College. With the hum of the stadium lights and cooler evening atmosphere comes a unique competitive energy and the Knights used this and the support of their parentally dominated cheering section to their advantage.

The offense bombarded their opposition with 10 first half shots but it wasn’t until the 44th minute that the Knights broke through the Auggie ranks. Central midfielder Abby Wills ’12 received the ball with her back to goal and quickly turned when the defense was slow to pressure. Catching the keeper – and possibly the rest of the stadium – off guard, she took aim from 40 yards out and rocketed in a shot. The junior mid placed the ball perfectly beneath the crossbar while still out of range of the goalie’s outstretched fingers, chalking up her first goal of the season.

The Knights entered halftime with momentum but they knew that a 1-0 lead was not safe. Despite fighting hard against Augsburg’s physical squad, Carleton had an unfortunate lapse with five minutes remaining in regulation. In much the same form as Wills’ goal, an Auggie midfielder found open space in the Knights’ defensive territory and Carleton could not transition in time to prevent a shot. The ball was hit hard and went straight for the upper left corner of the goal, sending the match into overtime.
This time there would be no walk-off goal. The two 10 minute sudden death periods remained scoreless and a frustrated Carleton team left the field knowing they were deserving of the victory, having out-shot their opponent 25-5.

With less than 24 hours’ rest, the Knights once again took the pitch, this time back on their own stomping grounds. The team maturely chose to convert its disappointment into fuel for their match versus Eau Claire, a very important non-conference game with NCAA implications.

Thrilled to be back on Bell and playing in front of so many relatives, the Knights came out of the gates strong, firing off four early shots. Maintaining their possession-oriented style of play, they were able to string together many consecutive passes as they kept the ball on the ground.

Midway through the first half, Niki Tomita ’12 commented from the sidelines, “Lily [VanderStaay ‘12] and Cassie [Burke ‘12] are combining really well right now.”

The words had barely escaped her mouth when Burke received the ball inside the 18-yard box and dropped it back to VanderStaay, who needed no extra touch before blasting the ball into the upper corner of the net for her third goal of 2010.

The Knights continued their high-pressure strategy when late in the second half Marlena Hartman-Filson ’13 received a pass inside Eau Claire’s penalty area. The presence of the “Dutch Dream,” a known threat among opponents, caused panic within the Eau Claire back line and in an effort to clear the ball, a defender hacked her from behind, taking out her legs; Carleton was issued an immediate penalty kick.

Hartman-Filson was able to regain her feet after the incident and, as she was the one to earn the foul, she stepped up to finish the deal. The sophomore forward displayed immense poise and confidence and, as soon as the referee blew the whistle, she buried the ball into the back of the net. Her ninth goal on the season, the shot capped off the scoring with Carleton on top, 2-0.

“I am proud of how we responded to our tie with Augsburg,” Head Coach Karen Gudeman said of the team.  “We showed up the next day to compete, channeled any frustration we had with the outcome or the way we played the night before into a hard fought match. Importantly, we showed up to compete against a very strong regional opponent and proved to ourselves that we could bounce back both physically and mentally.”

Some other notable performances of the weekend include Annika Ord ’14 and Layne Teska ’14. Both first-years came off the bench and played big minutes for the Knights at outside back., their combination of speed and physicality on the wings greatly contributing to Carleton’s solid defense and attacking prowess.

With the Knights recently posting a convincing 4-0 win at UW-La Crosse on Wednesday night, Carleton (11-2-1, 7-1-1 MIAC) finds itself in a two-horse race with Concordia (9-2-3, 7-1-2 MIAC) for the conference’s regular season championship. The Cobbers’ only remaining conference game comes a week from tomorrow when they travel to Saint Benedict, while the Knights face St. Catherine at home on Wednesday before finishing the regular season at St. Olaf next Saturday. Carleton has not been beaten in 11 games and recently made its first appearance of the season in the national rankings at No. 25, so get out there and support your Knights as they fight for the title!

-Erin Wilson is a member of the Carleton women’s soccer team.

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