The University of Minnesota, Morris women's soccer team improved to 3-0 in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference with wins over Bethany Lutheran and Martin Luther.
Bethany Lutheran 1
The Cougars outshot Bethany 34-3 to defeat the Vikings 5-1 Friday in Mankato.
Coach Dan Magner said the offense played a major role in this game.
"We took great care of the ball when we got it. We took possession and kept possession. It wasn't so much our defense, but rather how we handled the ball."
The Vikings managed to get past midfield only a handful of times.
The Cougars notched two goals in the first 10 minutes. Nina Jarnot scored her third goal of the season on an assist from Katie Kestner at the 3:11 mark. Three minutes later, Amber O'Connor blasted a shot from 25 yards out into the upper 90 for her fourth goal of the year.
"Being up two goals in 10 minutes put us in great position strategically. We just had to play smart from that point," Magner said.
Freshman Tayler Fairchild scored the first goal of her career at the 19-minute mark, a beautiful header off a cross from Taylor Meehan.
After a second goal from O'Connor, freshman Molly Olson closed out the scoring with a tally just before halftime, knocking home a pass from Leah Parker.
All 23 Cougars played in the game.
Martin Luther 0
On Saturday, the Cougars defeated Martin Luther College 4-0 in New Ulm for their third win in a row.
Each win in the past week has come by a minimum of four goals and they have outshot their opponents 108-18 over that stretch.
The Cougars battled evenly against an inspired and emotional Knights team who were dedicating their new field.
The external factors of the game impacted play early on, according Magner.
"We just had to settle down and play nice, simple soccer," said Magner.
Nice, simple soccer arrived at the 30-minute mark when O'Connor scored unassisted, managing to sneak underneath the Martin Luther zone for a clear shot.
Still, even with the 1-0 lead, Magner felt his team was pressing and he addressed this at halftime.
"I told them, 'This might be a crazy analogy,'" Magner said, "'but we're like a baseball player at bat. And in front of him, four teammates have hit home runs. So we're feeling pressure to do that too and we're gripping the bat really hard and swinging for the fences.' But right now, we just need a base hit."
Doubtless, Magner's words got through to his team, but they really seemed to inspire Meehan who picked up a hat trick in the second half.
The first goal came 1:30 into the second half when she blasted home a "lovely pass" from O'Connor who found Meehan racing behind the Knights' zone.
Meehan's second goal was assisted by Liz Vold and just 13 seconds later, she notched another tally, unassisted.
"Taylor seems to have habit of scoring in quick succession. That's not the first time she's done that this season," Magner said.
The win marks a dramatic turnaround for the Cougars who went 1-4 through non-conference play. They now stand at .500 with an undefeated record in the UMAC.
Magner credits the better play to focus.
"Everyone is contributing and not just the people in the game. On the sidelines, our spirit is excellent and I'm really pleased with the overall positive vibe... plus, it doesn't hurt to be getting a lot of shots."
The Cougar women host Northwestern College and Crown College this weekend in Morris.