Women’s Soccer Opens Spring Season

Womens+Soccer+Opens+Spring+Season

Nick Gainey

After experiencing a lengthy layoff of a year and a half, the women’s soccer team finally took to Thorson-Lucken on March 20 against the Illinois Wesleyan Titans where they fell by a score of 1-0.
The teams have developed a bitter rivalry, as both squads look to battle for a position near the top of the conference. They last met in the 2019 CCIW tournament final, where the Titans edged the Vikings in a shootout. Despite that loss, Augustana looked forward to the challenge of playing the Titans in their first game.
“I think we were all a little nervous, obviously we haven’t played a game in over a year, so we knew there would be a lot of adjusting,” Jenna Dvorak, senior,  said. “We really just wanted to come out and compete.”
Sophomore Maeve Sheridan echoed Dvorak’s thoughts. “We were all super excited to get the opportunity to play an actual game again for the first time in over a year. Playing against Illinois Wesleyan is always a big game and we came prepared for a physical match.”
Both teams struggled on offense with no scores entering halftime. The Vikings were stout on defense, repelling the few threats the Titans put on goal, but they couldn’t put pressure on the Titans’ goal. Both teams engaged in physical, aggressive play, with several fouls being committed.
The stalemate broke in the middle of the second half as the Titans stole a pass and were able to sneak in the only score of the game. Otherwise, the teams mostly engaged in the middle of the field, continuing to play solid defense.
Unfortunately, the Vikings couldn’t get that goal back, continuing to struggle on offense despite an evolving gameplan.
“We focused a lot on defense and defended a lot during the game, but as the game went on we knew we had to find passes and connect more in order to move the ball up the field and get a shot on goal,” Sheridan said.
Despite the setback, the team still has goals and aspirations for this COVID-19 season.
“I hope that we are able to do the best we can with the circumstances we have,” Cami Kekelik, senior,  said. “Being able to have a season one last time is something I’m grateful for. I hope we are able to play every game as competitive as possible.”
Dvorak hopes the squad uses the game as a learning experience.
“I hope we learn from this game. We need to possess a lot more, calm the game down and take control. I think now that we got the jitters out we can really lock in and connect more,” Dvorak said.
Kekelik had a similar mindset. “I hope that we are able to work hard and put in time at practice so we are able to compete at the highest level we can for competition.”
The Vikings will hit the road for the first time this season when they take on Carthage in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on March 25. They will get another crack at Illinois Wesleyan later in the year, on April 15 in Bloomington, Illinois.
Photo Above: First year Mia Ruggiero races a Wesleyan player for the ball during Saturday’s game on March 20, 2021. Photo by Narita Lambert.