Women’s soccer team has building blocks necessary to get first win in 2 years

Tara Jones and Tara Jones

How does a team that hasn’t been victorious in more than two years turn its program around?

It may seem like quite the feat, but with the right skills, experience and mindset, it can be done.

This year’s BG women’s soccer team appears to have those three qualities to take its program in the right direction.

Last season, the Falcons finished 0-15-2 overall and 0-9-2 in the Mid-American Conference. Their last win came in 2012 with a 2-1 victory against IUPUI at Cochrane Field on Aug. 26. This means the Falcons have been winless for more than two years.

The Falcons may be off to a 0-3 start on their young season thus far, but that record can be a little misleading. Yes, at the end of the day the Falcons have fallen in their three competitions to Morehead State, Michigan and Evansville, but for a team in the process of rebuilding, sometimes it’s about more than the win/loss column.

Last season, the Falcons totaled just nine goals on 149 attempts for a six percent shot percentage. The team averaged less than one goal a game at 0.53 goals.

This season the Falcons are off to a much quicker start. So far, they have already scored four goals if you tally those scored during two pre-season scrimmages. Several people argue that scrimmages don’t matter in the scheme of things because they aren’t reflected in the team’s record. This may be true in the larger picture, but for a young team in the process of rebuilding a program, every time they step on the field, it counts.

Of the four total goals scored by the Falcons so far this season, three have been scored by freshmen.

Madison Schupbach, a freshman, scored the lone goal in a 2-1 loss against Morehead State in the Falcons’ season opener. In pre-season scrimmage play, sophomore Kara Ross’s goal against the University of Illinois at Chicago [UIC] was accompanied by a goal from freshman Skylar Fleak. Mikaela Couch, another freshman, was again the only Falcon to score in the Wright State Scrimmage on Aug. 15.

In those two pre-season scrimmages, the Falcons tied both UIC [2-2] and Wright State [1-1]. A tie might not be a win, but it sure can be a morale booster for the Falcons.

Head coach Lindsay Basalyga, in just her second year at BG, clearly has faith in her freshmen this year. Five freshmen started in the Falcons’ home opener against Morehead State. Three started at Michigan and four entered the starting lineup in their last game at Evansville.

When taking a glance at this season’s starting lineup and early box scores, one thing seems clear: the freshmen are taking over. And they are taking the program to a new level.

Accompanying those young Falcons are seven upperclassman, adding a much needed aspect to the team’s new skill set: experience. There is no doubt that those upperclassmen get hungrier with each game to clinch their first victory in two seasons.

Those upperclassmen also bring another asset to the table. Covering the team last year, it was impossible not to notice the optimistic mentality of both the coaching staff and the players. After each game, regardless of the outcome, the team was ready to get back to work. The Falcons’ process was never necessarily to try to win every game, rather it was always to step out on the field better than the last time.

It may take a while before this year’s freshmen understand BG’s process and what the team is about, but there is no doubt Basalyga and her enthusiastic upperclassmen will get them to buy into their program. Once this skilled new class buys in, there is nowhere but up for the Falcons.