Focus on offensive opportunities shows headway

Augustana’s women soccer team, currently 3-1, look to defend their winning streak against Minnesota State University Moorhead in their home opener at 11 a.m., Saturday, at Morstad Field.  Photo by Kara Bartels.

Augustana’s women soccer team, currently 3-1, look to defend their winning streak against Minnesota State University Moorhead in their home opener at 11 a.m., Saturday, at Morstad Field. Photo by Kara Bartels.

SOPHIE KENNEY

smkenney11@ole.augie.edu

Despite having one of the best defenses in the NSIC last season, the Augustana soccer team’s troubles with goal scoring during the 2012 season resulted in a 6-10-2 overall record.

With the majority of last year’s defensive unit back on the roster for 2013, the Vikings are focused on improving their offensive efficiency.

“Last year we had opportunities, but we lacked the ability to finish them,” senior midfielder Katie Hurd said. “One of our emphases this season is to create more goal scoring opportunities and capitalize on them.”

So far the team has shown no shortage of goal scoring as the Vikings now possess a three game win streak after defeating Wayne State 4-1 on Sunday. Augustana improved to 3-1 in the season with the win.

The Vikings’ non-conference play also saw the effects of off-season improvement. After dropping the season opener in a hard-fought overtime loss against Northeastern State, the Vikings defeated Missouri Southern 2-1 before going on to defeat regional opponent, Washburn University, in the final minutes of a thrilling 1-0 double overtime victory.

Hurd, who scored the golden goal with 1:16 remaining, feels pleased with the way the team has started the year.

“All in all, our first few games have been very encouraging,” Hurd said. “We’ve scored nine goals in our first four games, which is already half the amount we scored all of last season.”

All three of the Vikings ‘wins have come on the road.

Amidst the excitement and promise of the early victories, the Vikings have kept a level head approaching the 2013 season.

Senior defender Liz Bunkers noted the team’s focus on consistency.

“We will focus on winning each game as they come and not get too high or too low about any half of soccer we play,” Bunkers said.

Alongside an improvement in offensive efficiency, the Vikings stressed the importance of physical conditioning, beginning with the team’s two-a-day preseason workouts.

“Our team is oriented around fitness,” junior forward Payton Pry said. “We will be the fittest team in the conference.” Pry led the team with nine points last season.

The team’s emphasis on strength and conditioning has helped the Vikings capitalize early on.

“Our team doesn’t give up,” Pry said. “We fight until the end.”

Augustana’s improvement is evident in the young season. The Vikings have been sharp in their early performances and are optimistic when looking ahead.

“This team just has a different feeling this year,” Bunkers said. “We are positive, we are excited, and we are all ready to put in the work it takes to win.”

The team is not looking too far ahead, however, choosing instead to maintain a “game-by-game” mentality.

“As far as our success goes in the conference and beyond, we are just focusing on the next game we have on Friday,” Bunkers said.

The Vikings’ next test will come in a pair of home games against MSU-Moorhead at 11 a.m on Friday, Sept. 21, before facing Northern State at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22.