Solid defense helps St. Olaf Soccer to 6-2-1

The St. Olaf women’s soccer team has been on a roll as of late, winning three straight games, putting them at 6-2-1 overall and on top of the MIAC conference standings.

The team has showcased some excellent defensive play, allowing only seven goals in their first nine games.

Goalkeeper Brynne Davis ’21 currently has a .844 save percentage on only 45 shots seen this season. In addition to strong goalie play, the strong defensive unit made of Aubrey Sewell ’22, Annalise Neiberger ’20 and Kaylyn Billmeyer ’19 has allowed only an average of .75 goals per game. Their communication with Davis has proved to be effective in shutting down opposing offenses.

On the offensive front, Mackenzie Shoustra ’20 leads the team. Schoustra has eight goals for the season on 53 shots. The foward has recorded 20 points this season, which puts her at third in the conference.

Shoustra has scored twice in one game against both Gustavus (Sept. 26) and Hamline (Sep. 29), making her the first St. Olaf women’s soccer player to record consecutive two-goal performances since 2009. Schoustra also picked up the MIAC Women’s Soccer Athlete of the week, the first women’s soccer player to recieve that title in nearly five years.

The team looks to build upon the strong start to the season by taking on conference opponent Macalester College on Oct. 6.

The Manitou Messenger had the opportunity to talk with defender Rose Sandell ’21 about the season. Sandell was named Honorable Mention All-MIAC her first year, was part of a back line that held opponents to 11 goals in 11 MIAC games and recorded four shutouts last season.

Q: Your team is 6-2-1 overall and is playing very well – what are your thoughts on the season thus far?

“We feel really good, and are so excited to see how far we can go with this group. We think we can definitely finish first or second in the MIAC, with a good chance to possibly get a bid to the NCAA national tournament. Our other goals for the season are to beat our rivals St. Thomas, St. Kate’s and Carleton.”

Q: Last year the team finished third in the MIAC. How do you think your team’s previous successes helped the recruiting process?

“I think the first-years knew that they were going to have to come in and help make an impact right away. After players graduated, some starting spots needed to be filled, but the first-years have helped out immensely and without them we wouldn’t be where we are at this point of the season.”

Q: What has your team done differently this year to get off to such a good start?

“Last year, our coach and team felt like we started off last season slow. During our entire pre-season we decided to adopt a new team mentality to practice and compete like it was a game. So when the first game rolled around, we knew we were ready to go. Our team knew exactly what we wanted to accomplish and all of the classes have meshed well together.”

Q: What does your team do during the week to prepare for each and every game?

“Usually each week we play two games. So every week we try to focus on something new to improve upon. Recently our team’s focus has been getting the ball wide and to the corners – that is what got us two goals against Hamline this past week. We also do drills specifically designed for each team according to our scouting reports. For this next game against UW-Stout, we are going to push the ball wide to try to cross it in.”