Women’s Soccer Team Streaks Into Conference Play


Courtesy of Erik Andrews

First-year Josie Marshall goes up for a header against an opposing defender. The Yeowomen are currently on an eight-game winning streak.

Sarena Malsin, Staff Writer

The women’s soccer team defeated the visiting Baldwin Wallace University Yellow Jackets last Thursday, finishing the last of its non-conference games with a victory and giving the team an eight-game winning streak.

The Yeowomen came out strong against the Yellow Jackets, as first-year midfielder Gwennie Gardiner and sophomore forward Megan Herrmann quickly took advantage of a two-on-one situation and notched the game’s first goal just over eight minutes in. The goal came courtesy of Gardiner, with the assist going to Herrmann.

The Yeowomen added to their lead in the game’s 23rd minute when junior midfielder Ellie Huizenga headed a corner kick from first-year Elyse Douglas into the back of the net, bringing the team’s lead up to 2–0.

The Yellow Jackets were able to cut the Yeowomen’s lead to one with a goal at the game’s 36-minute mark, but the Yeowomen came back in the 70th minute when sophomore midfielder Kate Mercer-Taylor crossed the ball to Gardiner, bringing the score to 3–1. The goal was Gardiner’s sixth of the season, making her the team’s top goal scorer.

The Yellow Jackets beat the Yeowomen soundly by a score of 5–0 when the two teams did battle last year; Head Coach Dan Palmer was pleased with how his team handled the Yellow Jackets’ talented squad in this match.

“Baldwin Wallace was a very physical, very athletic team,” he said. “The pace of the game was very fast — we just needed to make sure that we stayed disciplined and organized, which we did.”

Palmer added that because of their direct and aggressive style of play, the Yellow Jackets spread the field wide. This allowed the Yeowomen to capitalize on their strategy of “playing through the spaces they create.”

Players also found this strategy effective, as sophomore defender Casey McGuire noted that the plan worked in spite of the Yellow Jackets’ superior size.

“They were more physical and bigger than we are, but we weren’t intimidated and played around them a lot,” she said.

Thursday’s win brought the Yeowomen’s record to 8–3 this season, their largest single-season total since finishing 8–11 in 1997 and twice the number from last year’s 4–14 season.

“We’ve already exceeded so many goals this season, [including] winning more than four games and winning more conference games than last year,” said McGuire. “Last year we didn’t even win a single conference game.”

This season is only Palmer’s second as head coach, and the team’s improvement is indicative of his impact on the program.

“It’s been a process that started last year,” he said. “Returning players have made a big jump in understanding what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to play. That, combined with a talented group of freshmen, has led to the success that we’re having.”

Gardiner said she agreed that the Yeowomen are working well together this season, both with Palmer and each other.

“Our coach is definitely adapting what we’ve been doing to mistakes we make in games, and therefore we work on those things, and we’re working hard, not just passively,” said Gardiner.

Heading into a stretch of seven conference games to end the season, the Yeowomen are confident in their ability to sustain their recent success.

“At this point, anything’s possible,” said Gardiner. “We have any option open to us if we keep pushing hard and working hard.”

Palmer also noted that the team’s preseason conference placement might play to its advantage.

“We were picked eighth in the conference, so the expectation of the other teams is that they probably think they can beat us,” he said. “We have a little bit [of a] different perspective on things.”

He added that while other teams in the North Coast Athletic Conference look better on paper, the team’s performance indicates otherwise.

“[The Yeowomen] have been playing extremely well, playing without fear and with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, and just playing good soccer.”

After an eight-day break, the Yeowomen will face the Hiram College Terriers at home in their second NCAC game of the season tonight at 7:30 p.m. on Fred Shults Field.