Women’s soccer to Final Four
Editor’s note: This is a sports analysis, which allows for the reporter’s opinion.
After winning three consecutive playoff games, the Viking women’s soccer team erupted in a dominating 3-1 victory over the Dallas Baptist University Patriots on Saturday, Nov. 21, to advance to the Final Four in Pensacola, Florida.
Three Things the Vikings did well:
The offensive attack was stifling. Dallas’ defense was on its heels with 27 shots fired its way. By the end of the first half the Vikings had already put 14 shots in the air and it felt like it could have been 5-0 Vikings.
Senior forward and midfielder Catherine Miles led the team with six shots on goal, followed by junior forward and midfielder Caitlyn Jobanek and freshman forward Gabriela Pelogi with five shots each, and senior midfielder Savanna Moorehouse with four shots on goal.
“We created chances and got that early goal, which really gave us a boost,” head coach Travis Connell said. “We had a great first half and really set the table for what we wanted to do.”
Possession and passing
Dallas didn’t get a single shot off until the 45th minute. That’s partly due to another solid defensive performance, but it’s also because the Patriots never seemed to have the ball for longer than a couple of touches. The back line — senior midfielder Delanee Nilles, freshman defender Sierra Shugarts, freshman defender Taylor Hallquist and junior forward Erin Russell — did an excellent job of challenging the ball. The Vikings were methodical about the team’s movement down the field and were content to keep possession if there wasn’t an obvious opportunity to advance the ball.
“This was one of our best games,” Connell said. “We got off to a great start, which has been our recipe in the playoffs.”
In the 56th minute, Dallas tied up the match at 1-1 on a deflected shot. At this point it was frustrating to see a game that had been expertly controlled by the Vikings come to a tie. It was natural to wonder what the Patriots would do with this momentum and how the Vikings would respond to was was really the first “punch” of the match. Those questions were answered six minutes later by Miles with her first of two goals. There was no way the Vikings would be denied on its final match at Robert S. Harrington Field in front of screaming Viking fans.
“You really saw our maturity,” Connell said. “We have experienced players and we did well answering that goal and then getting the two-goal lead.”
one thing to work on:
Putting a team away
It’s going to be tough to score on the defense of Nilles, Shugarts, Hallquist and Russell along with senior goalkeeper Ashley Haden. With that in mind, the Viking offense needs to capitalize on its chances so opposing teams don’t hang around and think there is a chance to stay in the game. The Patriots were outmatched by the Vikings in every facet of the game, and yet Dallas was still within striking distance until the 72nd minute.
Goals: Catherine Miles (2), Caitlyn Jobanek (1)
Assist: Emily Webster (1)
Western had eight corner kicks compared to just four for Dallas.
The Vikings will head to Pensacola, Florida, for the Final Four. Western’s first match will be at 3 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 3. against Grand Valley State (21-1).
“We’re ready,” Connell said. “We’re going to go to win this thing.”