Vikings look to capitalize in second half of the season
Augustana’s women soccer is struggling with their goals this season, but will work hard in October for a top ranking spot in the conference tournament next month.
The Vikings tied with Minnesota Duluth 1-1 Saturday, and fell 1-0 to St. Cloud State on Sunday. Their record is now 4-4-2, 3-2-2 in the NSIC.
“We had a tough time scoring last weekend,” Emily Hanneman, sophomore defender, said of the previous weekend when the team tied 0-0 with Minnesota Crookston and lost 2-1 against Bemidji State.
“But we’ve been practicing a lot on combinations and scoring techniques,” Hanneman said. She looks to the coach for advice.
“Our game plan, our coach always says, is that we are a possession-oriented team. We like to keep the ball … we like to use our midfield a lot, that’s the area we’re really strong at,” Hanneman said.
A few torn ACLs, a broken tibia, and even a broken rib are the teams current woes.
“We have a few bumps and bruises, but we have a 31-person roster, so we’re a deep team,” junior defender Liz Bunkers said. Bunkers is currently the only Viking to play every minute of every game so far this season, totaling 957 minutes of play.
Katie Hurd, a junior midfielder, who is out with a broken tibia, says the team doesn’t have any key players, but relies on the aspect of having a strong team overall.
“In the past, we’ve always had star players that stuck out [that] other teams would focus on to defend them, but I feel this year we’re a lot stronger all around the field,” Hurd said.
Payton Pry, a junior forward, leads the team in goals this season with four, followed by Hurd and Kara Bartels, a junior midfielder, both with two goals. Pry, Bartels, and Maren Werth, a junior forward have taken the most shot attempts with 22 and 14 attempts, respectively. Amanda Wagner, a senior goalkeeper, currently has a .865 saving percentage.
The Vikings’ motto this season is “Team. Focus. Fun.”
“It’s a balance, for sure,” Bunkers said of living up to the motto. “When you get focused on winning it’s hard to remember to have fun.”
“We stress positivity,” Hanneman said, especially preparing for a big game.
The team’s schedule for October consists of mostly home games. Hanneman says it will be nice for the team to get into a pattern and hopefully have plenty of fans come out to support them.
The Vikings hope to rank in the top four for conference play next month in order to host for the tournament. The top eight teams in the conference will play for the championship. Last year, the Vikings were ranked fifth at the end of conference play.
Minnesota State- Mankato is currently ranked first, followed by Upper Iowa. Minnesota State-Mankato is also nationally ranked at eighth, and the Vikings say it will be a battle against them.
This weekend, the Viking women face Minnesota State-Mankato at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5 in Mankato, and Concordia-St. Paul at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 7, away.