Big Fight Ahead For Women's Soccer In Conference Semis
Women's Soccer broke through in more ways than one in the 2015 season, showing that they can indeed score goals and compete against the top teams in the conference.
Entering championship weekend as the third-seed, the Blazers have set a new record for games won in as season with four, and improved significantly in their overall record from 2014. "We have stuck with our goal of learning to play a style of soccer that is enjoyable to watch and does justice to the game; a style that includes passing, movement and building possession as we work our way up the field," said first year co-head coach Cara Isaak, "Other styles of play might be easier and initially effective, but our talent has grown and we think this sets us apart."
CMU's biggest goal-scoring output came in September 22nd 4-1 home win over the defending Women's Soccer Champions, Providence, who have found this season to be hard-going, narrowly qualifying for the Championship semifinals that they will host this weekend in Otterburne. The Pilots snuck in on goal-differential as they managed only one win on the season and that coming against the ACC Cougars who missed the playoffs for the second straight season.
Rookie striker Esther Schwarzkopf deserves much of the credit for the offensive turnaround. Now on six goals, Schwarzkopf is always a threat to score and is relentless in her efforts to take on opponents. "Esther has been a very important player for us," added Lianna Bestvater, who is the other half of CMU's head coaching duo, "but our success this season has to be creditted to everyone on the team. We have seen everyone show commitment to defending, transitioning and attacking and as we have gotten further into the season, we are seeing others step up as well and show confidence when they get in scoring areas."
One such player, Marijka Yaschyshyn, who was recently selected MCAC Female Athlete of the Week, is really finding her form. The midfielder was sidelined with a knee injury and forced to miss all of the 2014 Outdoor Soccer and the 2015 Futsal season, but has now scored goals in two of her last three conference matches.
The Blazers will match up on Saturday afternoon against the Brandon Bobcats, who they have failed to take a point off of in two attempts. In their first game of the season, the veteran Westman team handled the young Blazers rather easily, winning the match 4-0. In their second meeting, the Bobcats struck for three early goals but saw CMU claw back in the second half to create most of the chances, carry most of the possession and score their first goal against Brandon.
"That game should give us confidence for sure," said Bestvater, "If we can defend against the long ball and the long shot, we think we can advance to the final and surprise Brandon."
CMU will take the field in the semifinal at 12 noon and with success will face the winner of Red River and Providence on Sunday afternoon at 1:00pm in Otterburne.