Women's Soccer |
Sept. 6, 2010
By Jeff Geiser
Just three weeks into the 2010 season, the University of Cincinnati women's soccer team has reached unprecedented heights.
The No. 15 Bearcats defeated the College of Charleston 2-0 on Friday, then turned around and beat Western Michigan 1-0 on Sunday to jump their record to 5-0-1, the first time in the 30-year history of the program the team has remained unbeaten after six matches.
According to UC head coach Michelle Salmon, it's been business as usual.
"It's a good start. Seasons are broken down into thirds, so we're starting a new season right now," said Salmon. "We have Illinois coming in and then we get into BIG EAST play. We're excited about what we've accomplished because we're celebrating 30 years in the history of our program. We're excited that we're representing the 30 years of our program very well. At the same time, what I love about this group and staff is the focus on the here and the now."
For the second time in a row, junior defender Kelli Pawelko was named the BIG EAST Conference Defensive Player of the Week. After scoring the lone goal in last week's 1-0 win vs. Wisconsin, Pawelko set up the game-winner vs. Western Michigan on an assist to Julie Morrisseyin the 81st minute.
"I'm proud that KP has received this award again; it is well deserved," Salmon said. "Her ability to contribute to our attack is such a fantastic weapon for us as a team. We continue to pride ourselves in defensive effort and I'm happy that the BIG EAST has recognized one of our defenders for her effort."
While the defensive effort is churning out some impressive numbers now - UC has not allowed a goal in five games - it was a concern after the Bearcats' preseason match vs. Ball State ended in a 2-2 draw. One of the adjustments made was moving forward Erin Kaufmanto defender.
"It's something after the Ball State game, we looked at and we said, `There's something not clicking here.' Erin Kaufmanis a forward by nature, but she's truly a smart soccer player, one of the smartest I've coached," said Salmon. "So we made this adjustment and immediately you could see the backline fall in sync. When you have a backline and a goalkeeper that are in sync, they're very difficult to break down."
When a team has allowed just two goals in six contests, much of the attention is going to go to the play of the goalie. Rachel Barnetteis no exception to this. For her efforts, the senior goalkeeper has been named to the weekly BIG EAST honor roll list the past two weeks.
"When shots have gotten in, obviously Rachel's a part of that backline and she prides herself on making sure she doesn't allow anything in," Salmon said.
With just two remaining non-conference games left on the schedule, UC is preparing to enter BIG EAST competition. A home game vs. Illinois (Sept. 11) and a road contest at crosstown rival Xavier (Sept. 19) sandwich the Bearcats' conference opener at Louisville on Sept. 16.