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Falcon soccer facing tough competition early

October 5, 2012

Falcon soccer goalkeeper Becca Kramer (junior) throws the ball to her teammate
Falcon soccer goalkeeper Becca Kramer (junior) throws the ball to her teammate. (Megan Rodriguez/Student Voice)

The UW-River Falls women’s soccer team has played a very tough schedule in their first 10 games. This included two games against teams currently ranked in the NCAA Top 25.

They lost 4-0 to No. 22 Wartburg College at home in the first game of the season. The team fared much better in their most recent match against a ranked foe, playing No. 12 UW-Oshkosh to a 0-0 draw in Oshkosh. After 10 games the team is 5-4-1.

Head coach Sean McKuras said that playing a tough non-conference schedule helps prepare the team for conference play. “You play a tough schedule because you better sort it out if you want to play well in the WIAC,” McKuras said. “We played one of the toughest schedules in the Midwest leading up to WIAC games.”

Playing a strong schedule is important because it is one of the factors that the NCAA tournament selection committee looks at when deciding which teams will receive at-large bids. The winner of the WIAC conference tournament is granted an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

In the last six games, the Falcons are 4-1-1, having only allowed a total of three goals during that stretch. One of the reasons for the improved defense has been junior goalkeeper Becca Kramer who is in her first year of being the Falcons’ full-time goalie. McKuras said that Kramer and the team’s defenders are starting to get on the same page. “Our defenders are very confident in our keeper; Becca has done an outstanding job for us. It takes time; you really can’t recreate that game intensity in preseason.”

One of the areas where the Falcons have room for improvement is their ability to finish in close games. The team is currently 2-3 in games that have been decided by one goal. McKuras said that when a team plays a strong schedule like the Falcons have, a lot of games are decided by how well the team executes in restarts of play, which include penalty kicks, direct and indirect free kicks, and goal kicks.

The Falcons have seven games left in the regular season. Moving forward they hope to fix their late game woes and continue the success of late.