The Women’s Soccer team earned a program record by defeating Hood College on Friday for their fifth straight shut out of the season. By beating Hood and with a win against Cabrini University on Monday evening, the Gophers tied for a best start to a season since 1994. Then, the squad at the time also strung together six victories.
In the 5-0 win on Friday, the Gophers significantly bettered their play against Hood compared to last year’s 1-0 performance.
Earlier in the season, their most dominating showing came against Notre Dame (Md.) on Tuesday during which the Gophers posted an 8-0 victory. This result is one goal better than their 7-0 routing against the Gators to start the 2011 season.
Sherlanda Buskey ‘15, who was voted the Landmark Conference Rookie of the Year and the team’s Offensive Player of the Year with 10 goals earned in 2011, talked about her play in the game against Notre Dame.
After just six minutes, Buskey scored a goal against Notre Dame, saying that her contribution “boosted [the team’s] energy level during the game. It was definitely a confidence booster as well because I felt that I showed the opposing team that we can beat their system.”
She would go on to score a second goal 33 minutes into the contest against the Gators.
Captain Sarah Eaby ’13, who also scored against Notre Dame, said her performance was “backed up by amazing communication that my teammates and I have. In the Notre Dame game, the way we passed the ball around made it easy for me and all my teammates to get in on goal.”
Captain Caroline McDowell ’14 explained that a change in the team’s strategy contributed to success. “I play defense, but we have a new strategy which runs the outside backs up the outside of the field to get into scoring positions,” she explained. “I’m an outside back, the strategy is working, and I got to score.”
Comparing the 2012 team with last year, Buskey said, “I think that we have all new talent…. We are definitely more in shape than we have ever been and our speed is tremendous in all areas on the field.”
About this year’s improved form, Buskey added, “Not only are we making history, but we’re representing our school in such a classy fashion.”
Eaby added that a strong bond among teammates and better communication has resulted in the Gophers’ string of wins. “We have always been a close team but this year there is a different feeling every time we step on the field for practice or for games,” she said. “The closeness of our team this year is what makes the communication during games so much easier. We are really able to read each other on the field and that is what has been helping us win games.”
Despite the victories this season, however, McDowell said even better play is yet to come from the team. “I actually don’t think we have played our best soccer yet this season. We’re getting better and better each game, but we still have a long way to go,” she said.
Captain Kitty McIlroy ’13 also said that pre-match preparation is contributing to the Gophers’ ability to win so many games this year already, but that this is only the beginning. “The amount of work this entire team put into training, even from the start of the summer, is evident and I feel like we’re all on the same page with our goals and belief in what we can accomplish,” she said. “We have a deep bench and there’s a sense of trust for each player I’m not sure we’ve ever had before.”
The Gophers will begin their bid for a spot in the 2012 Landmark Conference championship by meeting Scranton University, the 2011 winners with a 6-0 record in Conference games, on September 22.