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Soccer team concludes immensely improved 2014 season

November 14, 2014

The much improved UW-River Falls women’s soccer team saw its season come to a close last week during the semifinals of the conference playoffs.

Last Thursday, the Falcons traveled to the top-seeded UW-Whitewater Warhawks in a battle to determine who would play in the WIAC Championship game. The regular season standings would hold true for the matchup.

The Warhawks went through the WIAC regular season undefeated, including a 2-0 victory over the Falcons on Sept. 27. Thursday’s box score was a basic carbon copy of the game in September.

Just under 11 minutes into the game, Brianna Reid put in the opening goal of the game to put the Warhawks up 1-0. Just past the 39 minute mark, Kelsey Beld put in her first goal of the entire season to increase the Warhawks’ lead to 2-0.

The game was an example of shots not necessarily translating into goals. The Falcons out-shot the Warhawks 14-13 in the game. The Falcons even out-shot its opponent in shots on goal with seven shots on goal compared to six for the Warhawks.

Carrie Anderson led the way for the Falcons with four shots with two of those on-goal. Abby Soderholm, Kayla Windingstad, Kaitlyn Logan and Missy Barnett all contributed two shots in the game.

Jordan Myers played a perfect 90 minutes in goal for the Warhawks. Myers stopped all seven shots that she faced as she led the Warhawks to victory.

Whitewater would finally lose to a WIAC opponent in the tournament championship game. UW-Oshkosh defeated Whitewater in the championship game on Saturday. Both schools received bids to the 2014 NCAA Div. III Women’s Soccer Championships.

It was a thriller just to get the Falcons into the semifinals game. It took an overtime period to advance the Falcons on Tuesday night.

The fun, success and thrills of the team are one of the things senior Alex Swatloski will remember about the season.

“It was a young team that ended up doing things that I don’t think anyone else in the conference expected us to do,” Swatloski said.

UW-La Crosse came into River Falls on Nov. 4 for the first round game. Like in the semifinal game, the Falcons completely peppered the goal with shots, but this time they found a way to get the ball past the keeper.

Nine minutes and change into the overtime period, Soderholm put in a goal to give the Falcons the 1-0 victory. Soderholm was assisted by Swatloski on the goal.

The Falcons shot 32 times in the first round game compared to only four from UW-La Crosse. Swatloski and Soderholm led the Falcon charge. Swatloski shot the ball eight times with three on-goal and Soderholm shot seven times with two ongoal.

Erica Cimochowski was in the goal for the Falcons victory and stopped all three shots she faced in virtually 100 minutes in goal.

The season can only be considered as a success for the Falcons. The Falcons doubled their win total from 2013. The Falcons finished the season with a 12-6-3 record overall and a 4-3-1 record in WIAC play. The Falcons finished in fourth place, jumping three spots from a seventh place finish last year.

The 2014 season was the first season since 2010 that the Falcons recorded double-digit wins. 2010 was also the last time the Falcons finished as high as fourth in the WIAC standings.

“My favorite part of the season was when we beat St. Scholastica,” Swatloski said. “That really set the tone for the rest of the season, because I don’t think anyone expected us to win that game and I think we made a statement there.”

The team matched the goals that Head Coach Sean McKuras laid out for his team when they were just first heading into conference play.

“As we get into WIAC conference play my expectations are for a top-four finish and to be competing for the championship,” McKuras said earlier in the season.

McKuras said he was impressed with his team’s season just before the playoff games were underway.

“I’ve been really pleased with it. I think the way we started compared to where we are at shows how hard the women are working,” McKuras said. “We started off 0-2, maybe gave away a couple of results whether it be a win or a tie in that mix, but since then we have really sorted a few things out.”

The 2014 Falcons will go down as one of the best teams McKuras has ever coached. McKuras has now coached 13 seasons at UWRF. The 2014 season was only the fifth time his team has finished with 12 wins or more. The first four times were in McKuras’ first four seasons from 2002-2005.

The Falcons will go into next season without Swatloski, Emily Hancock, Abbie Zastrow and Kaitlyn Logan whom are all seniors that went out fighting.