Riding a five-game winning streak, the Loras women’s soccer team traveled to Wheaton, Ill. last Tuesday to face their rival, Wheaton College. The offensive prowess that aided the Duhawks during their winning streak was nowhere to be found during this matchup.
Wheaton’s defense covered senior forwards Katie Truesdale and Danielle Vujovic tightly and allowed a combined two shots on goal, both coming from Vujovic. Wheaton struck first when Kristin Rauh beat junior goalkeeper Maria Siebels in the 21st minute to take the early advantage, 1-0. The Thunder added an insurance tally in the 89th minute to finish off the Duhawks, 2-0.
Even in a losing effort, Siebels played strong in net. She made ten saves on twelve shots Tuesday night. Vujovic praised the first-year starter for her goalkeeping this season.
“Maria has been working hard for years to learn and grow as a goaltender and it shows in her performance,” she said.
After a few days off, the Duhawks were back in action on Saturday as they took the bus ride to Greencastle, Ind. for an afternoon tilt with the Depauw University Tigers. The Duhawks once again gave up an early goal, but answered back with two of their own.
Katie Truesdale netted the equalizer in the 20th minute. Feeding off this momentum, the Duhawks took their first lead of the match when sophomore Maura Walsh scored on an indirect free kick.
Walsh’s goal made it 2-1, which was the score at half.
Walsh has been hampered by injury early this season, but has recently been seeing a fair amount of playing time and excelling.
“Maura has really been making a name for herself and is definitely finding her way onto the scorer’s sheet,” Vujovic said. “It’ll be fun to see how she performs when she gets healthy. I have full faith that she will continue to score a lot of goals for us.”
This will be important for the Duhawks as they move deeper into the season. Vujovic and Truesdale have carried the goal load for the most part this season, but the emergence of players like Walsh will help to spread the wealth.
The second half saw a number of scoring opportunities for Depauw, and they finally evened the score in the 69th minute. The match ended in a tie after two scoreless overtime periods and the Duhawks moved to 5-2-1 on the season.
After back-to-back non-conference matchups, the Duhawks will now move into Iowa Conference play. They will look to continue their recent run of success in the Iowa Conference, winning four of the last five conference championships.
However, coming off a season in which they failed to capture that title, the Duhawks were picked to finish fourth in the preseason. Despite this prediction, Truesdale and the Duhawks are ready.
“All of us are really excited about conference play coming up,” Truesdale said. “We didn’t do as well as we hoped to last season so we really have some making up to do to get ourselves back up to lead the conference and win the title again.
With matchups against Wartburg, Luther and University of Dubuque on the conference slate, the Duhawks know they have what it takes to return to championship form.
“Every year, we all compete for the top spot, so conference play obviously very important for everyone,” Vujovic said. “There is a new energy this season that I’m confident will lead us to success in conference play.”
The Duhawks begin the road to their tenth Iowa Conference championship on Saturday, when they’ll face Simpson at 2 p.m. in the Rock Bowl.