by Katie Collier
After a tough 1-4 loss to Northwest Nazerene University on Thursday, the Whitman women’s soccer team found rejuvenation on Sunday in a polished 2-0 victory over North Idaho College.
“Thursday’s game was rough and we made a lot of little mistakes, but today we were able to tighten up as a team and stick to our game plan for a solid 90 minutes,” said senior Betsy Neel after the game on Sunday.
Freshman Forward Corina Gabbert proved herself a valuable asset to the team by scoring in both games. “Corina is an awesome forward. She knows how to score goals and also how to play a passing game to produce goals,” said senior Captain Erin Frame.
The games last weekend marked the end of a four game pre-season before the team faces Willamette this Saturday at noon. The tentative team that allowed three Nazarene goals in the first half of Thursday’s game sprang into recovery after letting one more shot by early in the second half. Taking more control, junior Kristin Berndt had several close shots, and Gabbert managed to sneak one in during the last 16 minutes of the game.
On Sunday the team found more flow on the field, dictating play and eliminating the minor breakdowns in formation that hurt them on Thursday. An assist by senior Captain Sammie Arthur helped nudge the team into the lead during the first half, and a Whitman shot was deflected off an Idaho defender for another goal in the second.
A majority of underclassmen compose the 2006 Whitman women’s soccer team, and the players recognize that this preseason has been about learning to play with a new group of girls. Senior Defender Vanessa Warner said, “We have a lot of new players this year, and so we have to learn to be able to connect with each other, figure each other out.” Already the team has begun to make these connections. Junior Forward Kristin Berndt saw this element of teamwork as the key difference in the weekend’s two games: “I think today we worked well with the midfielders in making opportunities for ourselves. Thursday’s game, I feel like we were a little more hesitant and not as controlled in our passes and runs. Today we really worked the ball around.”
Looking into the future, Berndt said, “Our game this coming Saturday is probably going to be one of the toughest of the season. Willamette, Whitworth, UPS and us will all be fighting for the number one spot.”
She went on to state her confidence in the team’s abilities: “We have enough talent to challenge the top teams in the nation, like UPS, yet enough composure to stay strong in every game.” The girls will play this challenging and important first conference game at home against Willamette Saturday at noon.