(Written by Spencer German)
On a cold Friday night at Don Shula Stadium, the John Carroll University women’s soccer team looked to claim sole possession of the number one spot atop the OAC standings.
In arguably the biggest game of the 2011 season to date, coach Tracy Blasius turned to her eight senior leaders to lead the team to victory, allowing every senior a spot in the starting lineup.
“Our senior class is amazing. Eight unique personalities, working together to provide a blanket of leadership for a team of 40,” said coach Blasius. “At this point in the season, they really don’t need much guidance from me. They understand how our program works and just get things done. Whether it be on the field, in the classroom, in a quiet conversation with a teammate, or at a social event away from soccer, these seniors are constantly being positive role models.”
In the first half of action against a talented Ohio Northern University squad, the Blue Streaks’ powerful offense struggled to penetrate a tough ONU defense. In a season where outshooting opponents has been a common theme, John Carroll only had five shots on goal in the first half.
However, despite their lack of offensive production out of the gate, the JCU defense, anchored by senior Mari O’Neill, held strong sending the two teams to halftime knotted up at zero.
Both teams came out of the break with their work cut out for them. JCU came out ready to go with their usual starters on the field and showed a lot more offensive potential against the Polar Bears in the second half.
Despite the efforts of JCU, the first goal of the match went to Ohio Northern on a rocket of a shot off the foot of Kristen Klusek into the upper corner of the net. The score stood at 1-0 in favor of ONU with 36 minutes to go in the game.
That wouldn’t be the end of the scoring for the Polar Bears though, who added on an insurance goal in the 62nd minute of play to give them a 2-0 lead.
Despite the adversity, JCU stood strong. In the 77th minute, they added a goal of their own, courtesy of sophomore Genny Goergen, keeping a win in view with a 2-1 score. It wouldn’t be enough though for the Blue Streaks as time expired and that score was final with the Polar Bears pulling away with the narrow win.
“The speed of play was fast and it was physical,” said senior Colleen Harmon, who leads the team in goals and total points. “In games that need to be played at such a high level, it is important to be sharp and to take advantage of opportunities. These are two things that we could have done better on Friday night.”
That being said, Harmon emphasized the goal they are still looking to pursue as the regular season winds down.
“We have no doubt that hard work and a winning mind set will get us to the championship,” said Harmon.
Coach Blasius also emphasized the same mindset and not dwelling on one loss.
“Although it was painful, our loss to Ohio Northern will only provide us another opportunity to learn, grow together, and be even more prepared to win the OAC Tournament Championship,” said coach Blasius.
The Blue Streaks will look to carry that same attitude into Columbus on Saturday, Oct. 29, when they take on Capital University to close out the regular season before postseason play begins Tuesday, Nov. 1.