When the St. Thomas women’s soccer team opened its conference season last year, the women were underdogs to win the conference title. This season, St. Thomas opened its title defense with a 3-0 win against St. Catherine University at home Wednesday afternoon.
“We came out with intensity,” coach Sheila McGill said. “We played as a team.”
St. Thomas came out strong and dominated play. Just 15 minutes into the game, St. Thomas scored the first goal on a corner kick play from freshman Brittany Cochlin. Cochlin exchanged a pass with senior Erin Sprangers before sending it toward the net where junior Regina Horak scored for the Tommies.
“I’m very happy right now,” said Sprangers, who was the conference Player of the Year last season. “I’m happy because we came to play this game.”
The Tommies kept the pressure on the Wildcats and freshman Katie Ryan scored the Tommies’ second goal after she dribbled the left side of the field and drove the ball at the net.
“Two of the three goals were scored because we used our end line services, dribbled down line and crossed the ball over,” Sprangers said.
Sprangers said St. Thomas coaches wanted to see more end line service plays. The plays were successful against St. Kate’s, and she said the coaches want to see them used every game.
“They have started giving us … cards to reinforce our behavior, so we’ll do the play again the next game,” she said. “The goal is for us to do the play during the game without even thinking about it.”
The Wildcats had several runs at the Tommie net, but were cut off by a strong Tommie defense. Sophomore defender Tess Hanson had several good passes and long balls to the midfielders and forwards, which helped the Tommies hold a 2-0 lead into halftime.
“We didn’t wait until the second half to come out with intensity,” McGill said.
The Tommies maintained that intensity into the second half. After playing just five minutes, senior Kristen Moran scored a third goal after a pass from junior Lexie Fisher.
Sprangers said the Tommies picked up on possession and intensity.
“We just wanted to keep the ball in play,” she said. “The [end line service] plays helped a lot.”
St. Thomas plays at home again Saturday at 1 p.m. against Augsburg.
Rebekah Frank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org