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February 22, 2024

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Women’s soccer looks to move forward

Following a year of improvement, the Bowling Green women’s soccer team is looking to move its program forward with young talent.

The team has been well into its preseason progression, getting their 11 freshmen (including one redshirt) acclimated to head coach Lindsay Basalyga’s system.

“It’s super intense. When you come from high school and club people don’t go into tackles as hard as you see in a practice here,” freshman Juli Knapp said. “Everyone just wants you to do better so they’re pushing you to do your best and keeping us accountable.”

In addition to those 11 newcomers, the program returns 10 starters and a total of 16 letter winners from last year. However, the team is still very young with 19 players out of the 27 being underclassmen.

To gauge their place going into the regular season, the Falcons had a lone preseason exhibition against the University of Pittsburgh. The team lost the contest 1-0, but 19 different players saw action by the final whistle.

What stood out the most from that exhibition was the difference in attempts, with Pitt recording 17 and Bowling Green only shooting two, neither of which were on goal.

That particular category is of concern for the team, who were outshot by opponents last year 210 to 392. Even so, Basalyga does not take the contest as a total loss.

“Our goal was to compete with the ideas we’ve been training with for the last 10 days and we definitely achieved that goal. At moments it was a bit frantic, but we weathered some storms and a lot of players were able to find confidence on both sides of the ball,” Basalyga said. “Even though we definitely got exposed a few times defensively, I was happy to see our fight in not giving up a goal through the run of play. We saw a few special moments in the attacking third although we still need to work on being more dangerous with our chances.”

For a team that won four games last year and none the year before that, these early problems in the attack are to be expected.

For redshirt freshman Erica Hubert, the exhibition was her first time playing in the attack after sitting out all of last season due to injury.

“I think we fought really hard for 90 minutes. We gave up one goal that was just a defensive mistake,” Hubert said. “We’ve been working a lot with our attackers on popping and pulling because we get caught up in the same space at times. We just need to create more space and transition quicker so we can get more numbers in the box to take more shots.”

Following the exhibition, the Mid-American Conference released its official coaches preseason poll.

The Falcons were picked to finish fifth in the east division with no first place votes.

The University of Buffalo was picked to finish first in the division with seven first place votes, followed by Miami and Kent State with four and one first place votes respectively.

Ball State was picked to finish first in the west division, followed by Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan.

The team will have its season and home opener against Chicago State on Friday.

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