Women's Soccer |
April 20, 2011
By Hunter Tickel
Cincinnati women's soccer head coach Michelle Salmon knew the spring season would be a telling barometer to gage how her team stacks up against elite teams.
"Our spring schedule will afford us the opportunity to continue to develop our players and prepare them for next fall against some of the premier teams in the country," Salmon said prior to the spring campaign. "We are eager to return to the field and begin our quest for a BIG EAST Championship."
The Bearcats opened with 1-0 win over Tennessee while allowing a mere five shots on goal on April 3rd.
"I think we have made a very cognizant effort as a team and a coaching staff to get better on the defensive end," said assistant coach Amanda Martin. "I think (the Tennessee) game really showed that."
Junior goalkeeper Lauren Romanelli made her debut in the net earning her first cleansheet.
"We tell our team if they don't score they can't win," Martin said. "Luckily we were able to come out on top."
Sophomore Kaylee Dakers scored the game winner with four minutes remaining from inside the box after a pass from forward Julie Morrissey.
"The buildup to that goal was some of the best soccer that I have seen this team play in the three years I've been here," Martin said. "It was one-touch pass after one-touch pass, it was Kaley's pursuit of the ball. The goalkeeper was there but it was (Dakers') persistence. It was beautiful soccer and that was what excited us most about the goal. Everyone was excited and you could feel the energy."
Despite the early success, the Bearcats closed the fall warm up games with four losses.
On April 10th, Illinois hammered the Bearcats 6-1 in a rematch of last year's 3-0 blanking by the Illini at Gettler Stadium.
The Illini finished last year with a No. 13 ranking after a 13-5-1 season in which it made its ninth NCAA tournament appearance.
"Illinois is a very good team and everyone on our team knows that," Martin said. "They are very good in the midfield. They make some streaking runs out of there and they are very quick."
Dayton defeated Cincinnati on April 14th, 2-0 and went undefeated in four games without conceding a goal in the spring season. The Flyers were coming off a second round appearance in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
UC closed out the slate with a 3-2 loss against Indiana on April 17th, at Gettler Stadium.
This off-season showed areas where improvement is needed, particularly in the backline, and gave it a glimpse of the level of competition it will face in the BIG EAST this season.
"We are still focused on our own game and trying to get better," Martin said. "We are really focused on defense and every single day I see improvement in that. Michelle and I were talking about how much better we have gotten in (defending) and how much better we can be."
The Bearcats finished the 2010 season with an 8-10-1 record after earning a national top-25 ranking early in the season.