Last season was another banner year for the UW-Parkside women’s soccer team and head coach Troy Fabiano. The team took home the Great Lakes Valley Conference championship, their second GLVC championship in three years. The team also reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division II tournament after a thrilling win over rivals Northern Kentucky University at Wood Road Field. With many of the same faces still on this team, the expectations for the new campaign are set high.
“Our goals are always the same in the program,” stated head coach Troy Fabiano. “Our goal is to finish in the top four of the GLVC and to host the first round, get into the semi-finals, and at that point it is anyone’s game to get into the NCAA tournament. Our goals will always be that and if we change those goals we’re obviously not doing something right.”
The season opener was scheduled to be against Saginaw Valley State University last Saturday, but the regional bout was cancelled due to inclement weather in the area. Thus, today’s contest against GLVC foe Saint Joseph’s College would be the kick off to the Rangers 2011 season.
Considering the wait to start the season, one would not have been too surprised with how the play was in the opening half. There were a lot of explosive qualities on both ends to start the year off, but both sides were very rusty to say the least. Within the opening two minutes of play Parkside allowed a counter attack from a corner kick, setting the stage for Parkside’s senior keeper Cassie Glodowski. After a brilliant through ball set a one-on-one opportunity for St. Joseph’s College, Glodowski stayed strong and prevented the scoring chance from even being a shot on goal.
This triggered a counter rush for Parkside. Moments after Glodowski stood strong, fellow senior Shannon Becker was taken down in the box for a penalty kick. Becker approached the spot and shot the penalty kick with tremendous pace, but hooked it wide right.
In the twentieth minute of play, Becker looked to redeem herself for the missed penalty. She found herself on the end of slicing pass, to which she delivered the pass with a powerful strike that required a great save from St. Joseph’s keeper MacKenzie Calvert. This earned Parkside a corner kick, and saw Megan Owens find the back of the net. The goal was waved off just as it would be minutes later when a Shannon Becker free kick met the head of Kristen Benson, who was called for offside.
The major talking point of the first half and the opening stretch of the second half was the style of play both brought to the table. Parkside was very dominant on the ball, and was gaining chance after chance through St. Joseph’s mistakes. From late in the first half through the start of the second, St. Joseph’s College played in a defensive shell despite the fact they weren’t in the lead. The Pumas of St. Joseph’s College looked content to play for a draw, resorting to play anywhere from five to seven players in the eighteen yard box.
“They were looking to defend the whole time, but we’ve seen that before,” said coach Fabiano. “You just try to tell the girls to knock the ball as quickly as you can and change the point of attack. Then you start to find gaps as they change.”
The deadlock was finally broken in the fifty-ninth minute when Shannon Becker’s free kick fell to the feet of Megan Owens, who simply wasn’t going to miss from close range. This time the goal by Owens counted, and it was all Parkside needed to force St. Joseph’s College to get out of their defensive game. Within three minutes of the first goal, Owens scored her second of the match after a brilliant cross from sophomore defender Kelsey Armour.
“The goal was get the first goal and the floodgates will open,” said coach Fabiano. “We knew that once we put the first one in they would have to come out, but it took almost an hour, which for us we have some girls that can score goals. Against good teams, we won’t have as many chances as we would today, so we’re going to have to make sure we take advantage of chances.”
Ten minutes removed from Megan Owens double, sophomore Alex Johnson thought she would follow suit with one of her own. Her first goal at the seventy-second minute mark was the best of the bunch for Parkside this afternoon. Johnson was side by side by the edge of the area and shot across her body, through the legs of the defender, and found the back of the net. Her second was the final dagger and the easiest of the bunch, scoring a free header off a cross by freshman Emily Konior.
With the 4-0 victory to open of the 2011 season, next on the calendar for the UW-Parkside women’s soccer team is a stretch of three conference road games: Indianapolis, Quincy, and Illinois-Springfield. Their next home contest will be September 23rd against the University of Missouri St. Louis. The game time is set for 1:15pm, and, as always, the location is Wood Road Field.