Women’s soccer wins conference opener

Blugolds come up big with three goals to open conference play during special parents weekend

More stories from Trent Tetzlaff

Four years ago, freshman Megan Hanson arrived to Eau Claire for preseason soccer camp, just two weeks removed from the loss of her mother to cancer.

After the passing, Hanson faced the dilemma of whether to stay with family at home, or to come to UW- Eau Claire. Despite the tough decision, she decided to follow her passion for playing soccer and studying nursing as a Blugold, she said.

Now in her senior season as a captain on the Blugold women’s soccer team, Hanson was able to be a part of a special game against UW-River Falls in honor of her mother, and the Playing for a Cause-Joan Hanson Foundation.

The foundation looks to empower Madison area children to live healthy and active lives through sports in memory of Joan Hanson, Megan Hanson’s mother.

Although Hanson wasn’t able to play due to injury, she said Saturday’s experience in general was still amazing as all of the girls on the team were able to play for their parents and for a special cause.

“Speaking on the behalf of the foundation, I also am so grateful to the program and to everyone who came out to watch,” she said. “The cause game was a great way to celebrate being healthy and fit, and raising money so other young kids can do the same.”

On a special afternoon in Eau Claire for Hanson and everyone involved, the Blugolds not only had a special cause to play for, but also the opportunity to start conference play with a win against the Falcons, which they captured in a 3-2 victory.

The Blugolds came out quickly, scoring all three of their goals in the first half, and then locked down on defense to protect the lead in the second half.

Just five minutes into the game the Blugolds got on the board when freshman Erin Gietman was set up by senior Ashley Seymour and sophomore Lauren Lenz for a shot which she buried into the back of the net.

The shots kept coming as Eau Claire kept possession, putting up 16 shots on the board compared to the Falcons with 10.

Despite a challenge from River Falls to keep the first half damage to a minimum, senior Tara Dennehy prevailed with the second goal for the Blugolds, scoring on a solo run down the field to go up 2-0 only 24 minutes in.

As halftime neared, the Blugolds capped off their scoring for the day with their third and final goal coming from freshman Hannah Jacobson off an assist from senior Caroline Henderson.

Head coach Sean Yengo said that picking up the scoring is something the team needed to do, and were successful with in the win.

“It’s just great to get the ball in the back of the net, and that usually solves a lot of problems for us,” he said.

Despite pulling away in the first half, the Falcons surged back with a goal nearly a minute after Jacobson’s, and again in the 65th minute. However, the Blugolds defense held after the two allowed goals to get their first victory of the season.

“The girls rose to the occasion today and played a great game on parents weekend against a  great conference opponent,” Yengo said. “It’s great to get a win to open up in conference and we played well today.”

Hanson said that despite her injury holding her out of play, the whole experience was more than she could have asked for.

“The whole day was an amazing experience for me,” she said. “I was so proud of all my teammates, and I know my mom would be too.”

The Blugolds now sit at 1-4-2 overall and 1-0 in conference, as 2 p.m. on Saturday they will take on Augsburg College (Minn.) at Bollinger field.