Women’s soccer makes early strides

Aaron Parker and Aaron Parker

Bowling Green Women’s soccer kicks off its regular season play this week after a summer off. The team goes into the season after playing in two scrimmages against the University of Illinois at Chicago and Wright State, both of which ended in a draw.

However, the UIC draw ended 2-2, which is already an improvement from last year for a team that didn’t score over one goal in a match all season and is still rebuilding its program.

“We were given a lot of problems to solve and it’s still very early in the season but we saw some great things on the attacking side of the game that we weren’t seeing at this time last year,” head coach Lindsay Basalyga said. “Our bar was set much higher than this time last year in our process of rebuilding.”

One of the problems that this team will need to figure out is where the scoring will come from. The team scored nine goals all last season and has just two players on the current roster that have scored in their collegiate careers in seniors Ashley Garr and Sidney Huth. The squad is also very young. Ten of the players on the roster are freshmen (one redshirt) and four are sophomores. However, coach Basalyga is confident in the newcomers early on.

“You wouldn’t know that they’re freshmen. They may be making some mistakes tactically just because they haven’t played in our system before and they are getting used to how we are looking to play but in terms of being just freshmen you wouldn’t know the difference between seniors on the field and freshmen on the field,” Basalyga said. “They are working and competing really hard. They’ve molded into the way we are looking to train and are playing really well.”

All of that has shown to be true in both scrimmages. The three total goals scored in the matches came from Skylar Fleak, Kara Ross, and Mikaela Couch, all of whom are true freshmen. The newcomers have come in and immediately meshed with their more experienced teammates.

“We’ve already built a great relationship with the returning players,” freshman Rachel Winters said. “They built confidence in us with fitting in to the program.” Winters played 90 minutes in both of the scrimmages.

Couch, who scored the game-tying goal in the scrimmage against Wright State, is already setting her individual goals high as she tries to make an impact on the program.

“I just want to try and score,” Couch said. “I want the scoring record.”

Though the team is young, it returns nine players. The three seniors Ashley Garr, Sidney Huth and Kylie Briem will provide guidance to their younger teammates while the whole team still holds themselves accountable.

“They won’t be pushing all the responsibility and problem solving on to seniors, which I absolutely love,” Basalyga said. “The upperclassmen are going to be there for them in dealing with the highs and lows of a season and the highs and lows of practice. In terms of passing off responsibility in a game or in practice when it comes to decision making, everyone is taking ownership of those things as athletes.”

The Falcons kick off the season with a home game against Morehead State on Friday at 7 p.m. followed by an away game at Michigan on Sunday at 2 p.m.