The Tommies faced the University of Wisconsin-Stout Blue Devils in St. Paul Wednesday on St. Thomas’ south field. Team captain sophomore Callan Faulkner said the players had high hopes for their first home game.
“Our goals for this game were organize, communicate and possess,” Faulkner said. “I think the first half we didn’t possess as much as we wanted to but second half we came out, swung it around a lot in the back, possessed the ball, made them tired and I think it went really well.”
Regulation ended scoreless and brought the teams into sudden-death overtime. Sophomore Anna Strehlow scored an unassisted goal 3:21 in, giving the Tommies a 1-0 victory. St. Thomas is ranked third in preseason MIAC polls.
“It went really well for our first game,” said team captain and senior Lexie Fisher. “In comparison to our scrimmages, it was the best organization we’ve had so far.”
This is the second year in a row the Tommies beat Stout in overtime after remaining scoreless in regulation.
“We came out ready to play, and it was a really great game. We are going to get better and better which is exactly what you expect,” said team captain senior Kaitlin Denis.
Coach Sheila McGill was also impressed by how the team played.
“We made lots of things happen, created lots and lots of opportunities, just couldn’t put it away yet, but we haven’t worked on our attack yet so I’m okay with that having happened,” McGill said. “We worked a lot with our defense and we were successful. They made a conscious effort in order to put things in the back of the net and it worked, so it was fantastic and I’m really proud of how the girls played.”
Although the team has 12 returners this season, six of whom are seniors, 12 new freshman have also joined the team.
“Our challenge is going to be more bringing the team together quickly and making sure they are comfortable with each other right away,” McGill said. “Also, making sure the new players, all freshman, are ready to play at the college level.”
But McGill does not expect the Tommies’ winning history to change even with such a young team.
“We are going to be very young, and that is going to probably take other teams off guard in the sense where they are going to expect us to be big, strong which we always have been and we always will be,” she said. “But now its a matter of should those players step into those roles and fill those roles quickly. We definitely have our work cut out for us but we have to make sure we take one game at a time, but that’s something we have to do every season.”
The team is traveling to Tacoma, Washington to play Pacific Lutheran, ranked seventh in Northwest Conference preseason rankings, and Puget Sound, ranked first in Northwest Conference preseason rankings, in more non-conference play Sept. 3 and 4.
The Tommies begin MIAC conference play Sept. 14 at St. Catherine’s University.
“We have to take one game at a time because this is a strong conference,” McGill said. “If you don’t show up to play then you’re going to get beat, so every single game is strong.
Meg Tvrdik can be reached at email@example.com.