Chalk another win up for the Oles, now in sole possession of first place within an intensely competitive MIAC.
Heading into minute 80 of scoreless regulation play against visiting St. Benedict, St. Olaf women’s soccer once again faced an extremely tight contest likely to be decided by a single score. Luckily, as in their past two conference matchups against St. Mary’s and Bethel, the Oles manufactured a clutch, decisive goal in the closing minutes. Claire Bash ’20 capitalized on a pinpoint corner kick from Sarah Fisco ’18, launching a header into the net and securing a 3-0 start in MIAC play for a red hot St. Olaf squad. The victory marks the first time women’s soccer has started the fall with three consecutive conference wins since 2011.
True to form, the Oles maintained a healthy balance across the field, emphasizing unselfish team play and depth in order to emerge victorious. Overpowering St. Benedict consistently throughout the afternoon, St. Olaf remained on the attack without providing an inch of leeway, producing six combined shots on goal during the contest. Contributions on offense from
established starters such as Bash, Fisco and Abby Stets ’18, each with one shot on goal, were effectively supplemented with healthy production from younger players such as Maggie Wilson ’21, who pressured the St. Ben’s defense with two shots off the bench.
Another major storyline demonstrated in the contest is St. Olaf’s increasing efficiency on defense. Marissa Carroll ’21 presented a formidable obstacle in her third start at goalkeeper, one that the visitors could not overcome. However, in addition to Carroll’s efforts in goal, alongside fellow first year platoon goalkeeper Brynne Davis ’21, it’s not as if the opposition has been gifted any chances to score in the first place.
A stifling defensive wall led by veteran Kaylyn Billmeyer ’19 and emerging star Briana Linnerooth ’20, who have started every match and played a team-leading 815 and 833 minutes, respectively, has shut down any momentum from conference rivals this season, holding MIAC foes to only one goal combined. Indicated by the 1-0 final score, defense was once again the most significant key to victory against St. Benedict, as the Oles only allowed one shot on goal during the entire contest. In addition, St. Olaf’s sturdy defense silenced breakout St. Benedict forward Megan Thompson ’21, who is tied for third in the MIAC with six goals, holding her in check for zero shots on goal for the match’s duration.
This well-rounded teamwork is moving mountains for the Oles in 2017, a successful approach that they hope continues to bear fruit as they attempt to tie the school record against Gustavus with their fourth straight conference win to open the season.