Promising performances propel women’s soccer

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SLU women’s soccer has opened with a 4-1 record, including winning their first four games. Those four wins to start the season were good enough for SLU’s bestever start to a season. So far, SLU’s record has come strictly from non-conference play. However, SLU will hope to build on their strong early-season performance when Atlantic 10 matches begin. They will attempt to finish in the top eight, earning a spot in the A-10 postseason tournament.

The first match of the regular season came against Kansas State as the Billikens prevailed 3-1. Senior mid- fielder Shaney Sakamoto chipped in a goal and an assist against Kansas State. Meanwhile, junior goalkeeper Mary Niehaus started her first game. Overall, SLU dominated the match, recording a titanic 24 shots to Kansas State’s 6 and 13 shots on goal to Kansas State’s mere 3. The Billikens next played against Fort Wayne and won comprehensively, 3-0. Senior forward Danielle Tolmais was the standout performer, scoring two of SLU’s goals. This match was Tolmais’ first time ever scoring two goals for the Billikens. Sakamoto assisted on one of those goals, and freshman forward Alyssa Seitzer recorded her first ever collegiate goal, unassisted.

The third match of the regular season came against Illinois. Once again, Sakamoto came up strong for SLU, notching the only goal of the game on a very early penalty kick. SLU wound up winning 1-0 on the strength of that goal and Niehaus’ second shutout of the season.

SLU once again kept it tight in the back and squeezed out a 1-0 win, this time against a tough Valparaiso team. The match was the first time the two programs had ever competed against each other in women’s soccer, and was decided by extremely close margins. Freshman forward Evie Lavelle was the only goalscorer in the match, recording her first-ever collegiate goal to clinch the game for the Billikens. The match also marked Niehaus’ thirdstraight shutout. The 4-0 record that SLU had compiled to this point marked SLU’s best ever start to the season, tied with the Fall 2000 team.

SLU’s perfect start was spoiled in a close match against Nebraska, which the Billikens ultimately lost, 2-1. The first half went by scoreless, but Nebraska scored 2 in a span of three minutes to open a commanding 2-0 lead by the 63rd minute. Senior forward Kirsten Clemens scored her second goal of the season in the 78th minute, but her effort was ultimately too little, too late as SLU could not come up with the second goal required to tie the match. Junior midfielder Lauren Tondl also recorded her first assist of the season, aiding Clemens’ goal.

SLU’s outstanding first five games have been built on strong play from older members of the team. Seniors Tolmais and Sakamoto stand together atop SLU’s points list, with Tolmais tallying 3 total goals and Sakamoto’s 2 goals and 2 assists. Clemens, another senior, also has played well, with 4 points from 2 goals. However, SLU’s defense has been outstanding as well. Niehaus and her stout defense have tallied three shutouts, all in a row.

Next up for the Billikens will be a road game against Evansville on Sept. 8, 2016, in Evansville, Ind. SLU will be looking to get back to its winning ways against Evansville in order to prepare for the rapidly approaching A-10 conference matchups. The conference games will determine whether the women earn the right to play in the conference postseason.