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UW-River Falls soccer looks to be major threat in WIAC

September 26, 2014

Freshman Abby Soderholm kicks the ball towards the goal but is blocked by UW-La Crosse players Ali Roberts (left) and Kaylie Hanson (middle).
Freshman Abby Soderholm kicks the ball towards the goal but is blocked by UW-La Crosse players Ali Roberts (left) and Kaylie Hanson (middle). (Maggie Sanders/Student Voice)

The rest of the WIAC better pay attention to the UW-River Falls women’s soccer team.

The Falcons have not lost a game since Sept. 3, and they are looking strong as they proceed into conference play.

The Falcons played to a 2-2 tie with the UW-La Crosse Eagles on Saturday, Sept. 20. Falcons freshman midfielder Abby Soderholm kicked in her fifth goal of the season only nine minutes into the match to give the Falcons the lead, but it was close throughout.

La Crosse’s Kristen Anderson put it past Falcons sophomore goalkeeper Erica Cimochowski to tie it up, just past the 23-minute mark. The back of the net could not be found by either team for a long stretch of time after that.

Over 55 minutes of playing time later, Kelly Denk put in a penalty kick to give the Eagles the lead with just over 10 minutes left to play in regulation. La Crosse did not get anywhere close to 10 minutes of satisfaction.

Less than two minutes later, Falcons senior forward Alex Swatloski scored her sixth goal of the year to tie the game up at two. The teams then played two scoreless overtime periods.

Saturday was the third straight game the Falcons had scored two goals. The Falcons have been goalscoring machines lately. For the season, the Falcons have outscored their opponents 17-6.

That number is an even more impressive 16-3 when looking solely at the games since the Falcons’ last loss. The team’s increase in scoring makes complete sense to head coach Sean McKuras.

“As players get used to each other, chemistry starts to build,” McKuras said. “We’re a fairly young team, on the field and off the field; with that, scoring is what comes last. You can teach defending and some of those things, but really in the attack it is what you are trying to do and where you’re trying to put the ball next and that just takes time.”

Senior midfielder Abbie Zastrow accredited the goal differential to the team’s strong defense, and not allowing easy shots on goal. Freshman midfielder Carrie Anderson pointed to the team’s offense and their ability to shoot and shoot often. Junior defender Missy Barnett said it was all about hard work.

“We have a lot of talented players this year,” Barnett said. “We’ve been working hard getting up to the forwards and being able to play and not skip a step from defense, midfield to forward.”

The Falcons have one thing in mind this season: the WIAC championship. Zastrow, Anderson and Barnett all said their expectation for the year is to take first in the prestigious conference. It won’t be an easy ride to the top, though. McKuras admitted that it will be a tough road.

“The WIAC is an unbelievably tough conference,” McKuras said. “Really for the top eight teams, you don’t know where anyone is going to finish. I don’t think previous scores will necessarily dictate what happens in the following games.” That doesn’t mean that McKuras doesn’t share the same expectations as his players.

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

The Falcons have high expectations; expectations that can be met with goals.