After four goals in one weekend, fans can tell there is something different about this year’s Augustana soccer team.
The Vikings have already surpassed 2012’s season win total of six after defeating Bemidji State last Saturday and University of Minnesota Crookston on Sunday at Morstad Field. Augustana stands at 7-1 (5-0 NSIC) in the 2013 season.
Senior forward Maren Werth said the team is focusing on playing one half at a time, placing emphasis on creating scoring opportunities.
“Our success is coming from players making unselfish runs and passes, which turn into great scoring opportunities,” Werth said.
Werth scored the first goal for the Vikings in last Saturday’s game against Bemidji State. The first half showed a defensive battle, as neither team was able to score. The Beavers’ Sarah Stram scored in the 73rd minute, but Werth followed with a goal off Taylor Brownrigg’s corner kick in the 77th minute to tie the game 1-1. Neither team was able to score in the remaining 13 minutes, and the game entered overtime.
With only 53 seconds left in overtime, junior midfielder Stephanie Stevens dribbled the ball up the middle of the field and struck it into the lower-left side of the goal to close the win for Augustana, 2-1 over Bemidji State.
“I think our attack is one of our main focuses, but not the only focus,” Stevens said. “Last year, we took pride in having a solid back line. This year, we want to be able to have that same pride on the offensive side of things.”
Stevens said it’s important for the team to not become emotionally caught up in the added pressure of overtime, but to embrace the opportunity to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes.
“Overtime is always a battle,” she said. “A lot of the players are physically beat, so the mental focus is crucial.”
Katie Hurd, a senior midfielder, echoes Stevens, saying, “In the past, the pressure has made us crumble, but this year we have embraced it, and we have seen its benefits so far this season.”
In the three games this fall that have gone into overtime, Augustana has pulled through to win two, against Washburn and Bemidji State. They lost in overtime to Northeastern State in early September, 1-2, the only loss on the season to date.
The Vikings pulled out another win against the University of Minnesota Crookston on Sunday, 2-0.
Sophomore defender Julie Reinsnes was able to score the first goal of her collegiate career in the first half, giving the Vikings a 1-0 lead.
“Scoring a goal for the team was an amazing feeling,” Reinsnes said. Reinsnes didn’t realize she scored a goal until her teammates ran over to congratulate her.
“All my teammates give so much for the team, so being able to contribute by scoring a goal was really fun,” she said.
Hurd scored the second goal of the game in the 66th minute, giving Augustana a 2-0 lead and effectively shutting out the Golden Eagles. Junior goalkeeper Ashley Limmer recorded her fifth career shutout for the Vikings, tying herself for third-place all-time in Augustana history.
With the win, the Vikings remain unbeaten in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and moved their season record to 7-1 (5-0 NSIC).
“I feel like we haven’t been training that much differently from last year, but this year the heart and desire in each and every player is much more evident,“ Hurd said. She said scoring isn’t just a statistic this year, but a way to stay strong as a team.
“We have always been a very close team, but this year I feel like we are truly playing for each other.”
The Vikings head to St. Cloud on Friday for a 3 p.m. game against the Huskies, (3-4-1, 0-4-1 NSIC). They will play the University of Minnesota Duluth (5-2, 4-1 NSIC) at noon on Sunday.
“This upcoming weekend will definitely be a dogfight,” Werth said. “But I think that as long as we continue to work as a team and fight every game we will come back with two more wins.”