The University of Dallas women’s soccer team boarded an afternoon flight last Thursday for California where they geared up for three games in three cities. The Lady Crusaders faced their first opponent, Mills College in Oakland, CA on Friday.
Dallas got off to a slow start as the ladies struggled to find their rhythm while attempting to adjust to difficult field conditions. Once the game began, freshman Kaitlin Meske earned the first goal of the game after ripping a shot from outside the 18-yard box. Seven more goals would follow, four being scored in each half. Meske’s goal followed by goals from sophomore Claire Sexton, junior captain Marin Chambers and Sexton for a second time awarded Dallas the 4-0 lead at the half. A defensive lapse in the second half gave a Mills forward the chance to go one-on-one with freshman keeper Mary Quinn. The resulting goal prevented the Lady Crusaders from earning a shutout victory. Regardless, four more goals scored in the second half by freshman Nicole Johnson (two goals), sophomore Emily Rogers and freshman Andrea Papania gave Dallas an 8-1 victory.
After a seven-hour drive through the night, Dallas arrived in Aliso Viejo, CA at 4 a.m. The team promptly checked into their hotel for a few hours of sleep before hitting the field again at Soka University of America. From the start of the whistle, the Lady Crusaders were eager to get the job done, dominating the speed of play immediately. Many offensive opportunities to score highlighted the Soka keeper’s talent and agility. But after several incredibly close saves, Dallas was finally able to penetrate past the Soka keeper. Scoring first for the UD women’s soccer team was Sexton with an assist from Johnson. Dallas continued to effectively pressure the Soka defense in order to create turnovers and maintain possession of the ball. The Lady Crusaders were able to score again when Johnson went one-on-one with the keeper, placing the ball past the Soka keeper and into the goal. A solid defensive performance from the entire backline (senior captain Rachel Yuengert, sophomore Meredith Noe and freshmen Kayla Nguyen, Lindsey Jeo and Erin Jones), along with starting sophomore goalkeeper Brigid Hasson earned Dallas the 2-0 shutout.
With two games down, the Lady Crusaders hit the road again on Sunday to face off against Marymount College at the Home Depot Center, home to Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy. The two teams matched up comparatively with regard to fitness and speed, and Marymount proved to be tough competition. Marymount quickly seized the moment when Dallas failed to step and pressure defensively, firing a cross over Dallas’ backline which Marymount defender Ariel Meadows was able to finish into the net. The Lady Crusaders continued to trail 1-0 at the half and were forced to make formation adjustments from a 4-4-2 to a more defensive 4-5-1 going into the second half. Dallas fought to get back into the game but failed to execute opportunities to score. As the game wore on, fatigue began to set in. Marymount struck again. A shot from out wide went over the Dallas backline and past Hasson into the back of the net. However, the UD women’s soccer team did not let up or give up. With only several minutes left in the game, the Lady Crusaders continued to attack taking shot after shot at the goal. Unfortunately, Dallas could not find the back of the net, and the match ended in a 2-0 loss.
The UD women’s soccer team will get a day of rest before heading back to practice as they prepare for conference play. First on the list of conference teams is Birmingham-Southern in Alabama. The Lady Crusaders will take the field at Birmingham-Southern on Friday, Sept. 30. Wish them luck!