Soccer team settles into season with goals of NSIC title

Soccer team settles into season with goals of NSIC title
Sophomore Shea Ellender fights for the ball against Winona State. Photo by Peyton Bartsch/GoAugie. 

The Vikings soccer team started its season with a 1-0 win against the University of Central Missouri on Sept. 1. Ten games later, the team has secured an overall record of 5-4-2.

After the win against Central Missouri, the Vikings took down Rogers State University with a score of 1-0 earning a record of 2-0 to open the season.

Senior midfielder Lily Petersen believes the wins were impressive considering the new team roles. 

“Coming into this year, we were not sure of what anyone’s roles would be,” Petersen said. “My role changed from not seeing many minutes the last three years to becoming a starter, where I am seeing more minutes and developing into a main leader on the team.” 

With 12 freshmen players joining the roster this fall, freshmen make up one-third of this year’s team. Head coach Brandon Barkus said the number of young players on the team has been a challenge this season but will benefit the team moving forward.

“We have a lot of really young players that are seeing a lot of minutes and contributing,” Barkus said. “I think it has taken them a while to sort out the speed of the game, the physicality and some of the expectations of playing in our program.”

Petersen said adjusting to the new team dynamic took time, but the team is better because of it.

“We are a completely different team than last year, so trying to figure out how this team plays and attacks was something that took a bit of time,” Petersen said. 

While this new team has faced some struggles, it has proved to be a group with many strengths, Barkus said. 

Most recently, the Vikings took on Concordia University, St. Paul on Oct. 8 and fell 4-1 to the Golden Bears. 

“It has been hard to get rhythm with scoring goals, but we’ve done a really good job of minimizing our opponents from scoring goals,” Barkus said. 

Barkus thinks the biggest weakness of the team is the players’ friendliness on the field.

“We’ve got a lot of really nice women,” Barkus said. “They get on the field and they don’t always have the most killer attitude. They foul and they say ‘I’m sorry.’ They’re just really nice, really high achieving, nice kids.”

Barkus said he feels optimistic about the season moving forward.

“Coming up, we’re going to play some of the lower-end teams in our league, and we’ll probably get on a pretty good run,” Barkus said. “I think moving forward we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

Barkus believes the team still has a chance at winning the NSIC tournament in November.

“We’ve got a lot of women that understand what it takes to be successful, and they’re definitely willing to work,” Barkus said.

Junior defender Delaney Kost said she has enjoyed the season so far and is excited to take on the upcoming games.

“I think our biggest threat moving forward is our own selves,” Kost said. “We must remain disciplined and execute the way we know how. I believe we are the stronger team. We just have to prove it.”

The Vikings will play in Nebraska on Oct. 13 against Wayne State College before returning to home at Morstad Field to play against the University of Sioux Falls on Oct. 15.