Seniors wrap up careers at home with a victory
In what was probably the last home game of the year, the UW-Eau Claire women’s soccer team wanted to make sure the seniors went out with a bang against UW-Oshkosh.
They did just that, defeating the Titans by a score of 4-1.
“It was very important, and (the seniors) just kept on telling us this might be the last chance they ever get to play on our home field,” freshman Rachel Nerison said. “And that just really hit home.”
After struggling to get on the board early in the previous game, the Blugolds wanted to make sure they came out hard and fast.
“You’ve got to get out quickly – it just really helps to set the tempo,” head coach Sean Yengo said. “It takes the pressure off of us and it puts them on their heels.”
The Blugolds got out of the gate very quickly as they scored two goals in the first 10 minutes.
The first score of the game came from senior Amy Smith and was quickly followed up with a goal by Nerison.
“We definitely got off to a strong start, but then things started to slow down,” Smith said.
Just a few minutes after the second goal, Smith made a pass to sophomore Jamie Schiesel who forced the goalkeeper to make a diving save to the far post. Eau Claire struggled to put away any more goals for the next 20 minutes even though they had several scoring opportunities.
“We should have been up five or six to nothing at halftime,” Smith said.
In the 31st minute Oshkosh was able to get on the board with a deep shot that left senior goalkeeper Allie Rivard with no chance to make a save.
However, the Blugolds answered right away as senior Liz Kooistra was able to head a ball down to her feet and place the ball into the far corner.
With a 3-1 lead at the half, Eau Claire appeared to be fully in control of the game.
Oshkosh came out of the break fired up and eager to score, but the Blugolds continued to show their superior skill and will to win. Eau Claire strung together many passes and was always the first to any open ball.
Although the Blugolds had trouble finding the back of the net, it was obvious which team had more power as Eau Claire dominated the time of possession.
Finally, in the 76th minute, Nerison was determined to add her second goal of the game. After receiving a pass, Nerison was charged by the goalkeeper, who was way out of position. Once the goal was left open, Nerison was easily able to place the ball into the goal. The score was the third for Nerison in the last two games.
“I’ve been really working on staying focused and composed,” Nerison said. “And I’ve been working hard on finishing around the goal in practice because I’ve had a little bit of trouble with that this season.”
Nerison’s goal was the final score of the game.
Yengo was very happy for his senior players after the game.
“The most important thing is that we send (the seniors) home with a victory,” Yengo said.
The Blugolds improved to 14-1-2 on the season and 6-1 in the WIAC as they begin to get ready for the playoffs with just two regular season games remaining.
“We just really need to find a way to play quality soccer for all 90 minutes,” Yengo said. “If we do that, this team can go far.”