Duhawks utilize length of the bench to pitch shutout

photo by Natalie Droeske

The women’s soccer team was coming off of their first loss of the season to Augustana when they faced Oshkosh at the Rock Bowl on Thursday.

The Oshkosh team was 4-3 going into the match having just defeated a strong Wartburg side that the Duhawks lost to in the Conference Tournament last season in a heartbreaking PK shootout. The Duhawks were keen to get back on the field after a very exciting start to the season that saw them at 4-1 in the 2016 campaign.

The game started with Loras on the front foot from the kick off, and in the third minute junior Gretchen Schutz played a fantastic through ball to sophomore Elizabeth Mills who was clear of the Oshkosh defense. Mills, who is one of the Duhawks’ biggest threats in the attacking half of the field, stroked the ball passed the Oshkosh goalie, but the foot of the far post kept Mills from finding her first goal of the season. The rest of the first half saw Loras dominate the shot count and most of the possession outshooting Oshkosh 15-4 in a very exciting first half of soccer. Loras had a large portion of their attacking opportunities come from the long throw of Schutz, but they were unable to find the back of the net in the first half.

It was in the 55th minute that the only goal of the game was registered, and it fell the way of the Oshkosh team. Alek Kleis who showed some attacking prowess in the first half was the Oshkosh player that struck an ambitious effort from 35-40 yards out that caught sophomore goalie Michelle Loyo in an awkward position, and the ball bounced over her outstretched arms. That goal would seal the win for the Oshkosh team on the night. Despite the Loras offense creating many chances including an effort that struck the crossbar from Schutz, they were unable to beat the Oshkosh defense and the game ended at 1-0.

After facing Oshkosh, the team headed into the weekend ready to open up their conference play against the new addition to the conference in Nebraska Wesleyan. The Prairie Wolves were 6-5 on the season with a real mixture of results so far. Having won one game 16-0, they were going to be a potentially dangerous opponent.

The Duhawks were coming off of two straight losses in which they actually had dominated the run of play, and they were confident some minor tactical adjustments would put them back in their previous winning ways.

Senior Madie Avery returned to the field after being absent from injury and scored her first goal of the season. It was Schutz’s long free kick that found the head of Avery as she flicked the ball over the head of the Nebraska goalie to give Loras the lead. The Duhawks were unable to extend their lead in the first half. However, in the second half they made three more goals to seal a comfortable win. Schutz had the second and third tallies of the day, and it was the junior captain Sydney Wright that finished the day with a beautiful side netting finish with her right foot.

This was a very solid performance from the Duhawks as the Prairie Wolves could only manage two shots on goal in the entire match, allowing senior goalie Maria Siebels to register her fourth shutout of the season. The Duhawks won, 4-0.

“It was an overall great team win as Coach Pucci was able to use his entire bench this trip,” said junior Mackenzie Anderson.

This has been a key aspect of the way the Loras teams play in the past and can help them in wearing teams down in the latter stages of each half.

The Duhawks entered their Wednesday match against Whitewater with a 5-2 record while the Warhawks are currently on an eight-game winning streak.

“We were excited for Whitewater as it is always a great game and this year is no different,” said head coach Matt Pucci. “We always want to play the best teams we can to be ready for the post season. We need to play our game and take our chances when we get them.”

After the Whitewater match, Loras will travel up the road on Wednesday, Oct. 5, to face the University of Dubuque.

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