Bruised but not battered

The UW-Eau Claire women’s soccer team left Bollinger Field with a close win, close loss and blowout victory at three home games in five days.  On Saturday, as the Blugolds celebrated the win, the air was filled with color — red and yellow, that is.

The win came Saturday against conference competitors UW-Platteville, as senior Allie Stone scored early in the second half.

Both teams were scoreless until the 46th minute. After a Pioneer defender deflected a shot with her hand, the referees granted the Blugolds a penalty kick. The coaches huddled to discuss their candidate to take the shot. Meanwhile, before the coaches could decide, Stone grabbed the ball, positioned a spot and let it fire, scoring the only goal of the game.

Being a captain, she said she thought it was her duty to the team to step up.

“As a leader of the team I took it upon myself,” Stone said.

Platteville recorded six penalty cards — five yellow and one red. The red card was given to a Platteville coach, who will be suspended for one game.

Yengo said only one or two yellows are common in a game, certainly not five and a red.

“There was definitely some very cheap, physical-type play,” Yengo said.

The Blugolds’ defense held their ground, however, and didn’t allow the Pioneers a goal. The final score was 1-0.

UW-Eau Claire welcomed St. Thomas (Minn.) on a cold, rainy Sunday, but the Tommies came away victorious, beating the Blugolds 2-0. The Tommies scored with four seconds remaining in the first half and secured a 2-0 lead in the second half.

After Blugold senior goalie Nina Behrenbrinker allowed two goals, coaches made the decision to pull her out of the game, not because of a poor performance, but they want to keep her healthy for the playoff hunt, Yengo said.

Because it was late in a non-conference game, Yengo said it was an ideal opportunity to give the backup goalie some live-game practice against a competitive team.

Freshman Rachel Griffiths made her first appearance this season and got 17 minutes of action.

Although Griffiths received some playing time, it wasn’t enough to record any legitimate stats. Griffiths she said she was honored to get playtime as a freshman, and glad her hard work in practice was finally rewarded.

She also said she learns a lot from Behrenbrinker in practice.

“Nina is sort of a role model for me,” Griffiths said.

Next year Griffiths will be starting goalie, so she said she values Behrenbrinker’s advice.

Wednesday night, the Blugold clobbered UW-Superior for a 9-0 victory, the biggest win of the season by far. Sophomore Caroline Henderson notched a hat trick by scoring three goals in the contest.

Kara Ryan, Audra Zimmer, Mandy Smith, Tara Dennehy, Ashley O’Connell and Rachelle Belott also scored goals against the Yellowjackets.

With the win on Wednesday at home and another one Saturday at UW-River Falls, Yengo said the team will definitely be in the conference tournament as the top six teams get the spots.