Women’s soccer stays hot with win

The UW-Eau Claire women’s soccer team handled Hamline University 4-1 Thursday evening at Bollinger Field to open its season with a 2-0 record.

After Thursday night’s contest, the Blugolds have outscored their first two opponents 7-1 including a 3-0 win at Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) last Saturday.

Senior defender Kara Ryan started the Blugold scoring 15 minutes into the contest with a goal off an assist by fellow senior captain Allie Stone.

“It always feels good to come out and get that first goal,” Ryan said. “It’s a huge momentum booster.”

The second  goal came ten minutes later near the midway mark of the first half by Stone, with an assist courtesy of sophomore Tara Dennehy’s cross pass.

After taking a 2-0 lead into the halftime locker room, the Blugolds began the second half with a fury by dominating time of possession and scoring with only a minute and change gone by in the second half. Freshman forward Mandy Smith found the net for her first career collegiate goal and was assisted by freshman midfielder Maddie Janssen.

Head Coach Sean Yengo said he saw a number of great things from his players, but  emphasized the second half start.

“I would say the most impressive part of the game was the first five to ten minutes of the second half,” Yengo said. “We came out and we just pounded them and looked really good. That’s probably the best soccer we’ve played up to this point.”

Janssen, who helped engineer a number of their scoring chances on the offensive side of the ball, said the game comes natural to her.

“It’s kind of an out of body thing, you don’t really know what you’re doing out there,” Janssen said. “It just kind of comes to me.”

After Hamline University scored a goal in the 57 minutes gone by in the contest, the Blugolds countered with a late unassisted fourth goal by Tara Dennehy in the with 14 minutes to go.

As impressive as the 4-1 victory is for the early season, Coach Yengo found room for improvement.

“You win four to one, you’re always going to complain about the one you gave up,”  Yengo said. “Now we go one game at a time and Augsburg will be a competitive game.”

Ryan feels the same way headed into their next game when they take on Augsburg College (Minn.), Saturday.

“We don’t want to be too high, or think of ourselves too highly because we have a very competitive game coming up and we don’t want to underestimate any of our competitors,” she said.

Ryan said she had with high aspirations for her team in her final year.

“I know (Allie) Stone and I have been talking about this a lot, but our goal is to win the conference championship,” Ryan said.  “We need to get our team focused one game at a time, one practice at a time, one percent better each day.”

The Blugolds will look to continue the hot start against the Auggies of Augsburg 7 p.m. Saturday.