St. Olaf women’s soccer came up just short of a playoff appearance this season, but still improved tremendously with an 8-7 record, miles better than their 4-10-4 mark a year ago. The emergence of forward Mackenzie Shoustra ’20 in her first season at St. Olaf was a major reason why. She tied for the team lead in goals with six, her final score being the deciding factor in the Oles’ last contest of the season, a 1-0 win against St. Benedict. Shoustra will look to lead the scoring attack next season, hoping to build on the Oles’ 2016 rebound and become one of the MIAC’s top scorers.
Q: What professional athletes inspire you to keep improving, and what have you learned by watching them?
A: I look up to the United States women’s national soccer team, specifically players like Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach. By watching them, I aspire to be as athletic and determined as they are. Watching the U.S. team play motivates me to play with passion and a desire to win for my team.
Q: As a freshman, what’s the biggest difference between high school and college soccer, and how has that changed you as a player?
A: First off, coming from California, high school soccer was a winter sport. It was nice showing up for preseason in August and acclimating to the college environment. I also found a higher level of intensity and focus which I enjoyed because I knew we all wanted to work hard in practice and get better as a team.
Q: What is your biggest strength as an athlete, and what’s the element of your game you’d like to improve the most? How do you plan on working on that aspect of your game?
A: I believe that my speed has contributed to helping the team attack in the final third of the field. More importantly though, I want to improve on moving off the ball, defending in tight spaces and winning balls in the air. I plan to work on my goals by watching and practicing soccer in the off season.
Q: Despite just missing the playoffs, the team improved tremendously over last season. What’s your biggest takeaway from an exciting 2016 season and what are you most optimistic about for next year?
A: I loved playing with a group of women who are so passionate about the game and enjoyed my first season both on and off the field. It is indeed disappointing that we just missed the playoffs, but reflecting on all of the games we have played, despite the score, we grew stronger as a team. I hope that we can continue to stay positive and work hard to make playoffs next year.