Moving swiftly through the start of their season, the women’s soccer team has looked nearly unstoppable in their games so far this season. With two dominant wins and an average of two goals per game, it is clear that these women are a force to be reckoned with. The team has a strong 2-1-1 record. After seemingly scoring at will in the first two games—the team had a combined margin of victory of eight goals—the girls have lost a bit of their early season magic, getting shutout in the subsequent two games. This is not from a lack of opportunities—during the scoreless stretch, the Knights have outshot opponents 29-23.
“A big thing we need to do more is create more opportunities to score,” freshman goalie Emily Janiszewski said. “Our defense is strong, we just need that other aspect to really complete the team.”
The defense has undoubtedly been one of the team’s strengths throughout the season.
“One of our positives so far this season is the fact that we had three shutouts in four games. The great thing about this team is that they are not satisfied with only three shutouts in four games,” head coach Nate Wiley said. “We are continuing to improve every day in training. We hope to see some increased scoring as we move forward.”
The heart of this brick wall of a defense starts at the back end with Janiszewski. Despite being a freshman, she has not played like a rookie. Janiszewski gives the credit to her teammates, however, especially senior midfielder Marissa Benson.
“She keeps a great attitude and it is clear that she is here to win. If I punt the ball, I can count on Benson to win it in the air and to send it off to the next player,” she said. “If there is a corner kick, I expect her to be on the end of that ball. She is a great player and I'm sad to see her leave next year.”
Even though the offense has been stagnant lately, the defense has been formidable. It seems like this year’s team will go as far as the defense can take them. This is not necessarily a bad thing—the great University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once said, “Offense sells tickets. Defense wins championships.”
“It may be a bit early in the season to be speaking championship, but that doesn’t mean that any teams should be any less relaxed against these Knights,” Wiley said. “We give all of our opponents their due respect, but we definitely approach every game with the mindset that we have the ability to win.”
Six of the next eight games are on the road for the Knights. With resurgence on the offensive end—and some solid defense—perhaps the women can build another win streak.