Womens' soccer injuries have no affect on 2012 season

Jimmy Pyles

Midway through the 2011 season, USI lost two Great Lakes Valley Conference weekend matches while playing without their entire starting back line.

That weekend proved to be costly. Even though the team finished a respectable sixth place in the GLVC, they were bounced from the opening round of the conference tournament, finishing the season with a 9-8-2 overall record.

This season, instead of focusing on past injuries, the team looks forward to their blend of leadership, youth and team chemistry to turn the page.

 

Senior forward Susan Ellsperman leads a squad that returns seven starters from last season and features 19 underclassmen. Last year, Ellsperman became the first USI women’s soccer player ever to garner first-team Academic All-America honors and led the team with 14 points on five goals and four assists. Head coach Krissy Engelbretch said Ellsperman’s attention to detail is why she’s a model of success to both the team and the university.

“Susan is one of those kids who does all of the little things right,” Engelbretch said. “She really just reiterates the small things to the underclassmen every single day.”

The Eagles were nearly unbeatable at Strassweg Field in 2011, going 7-1 at home. But they didn’t come out of the gates as quickly on the road, going 2-6-1 – and were outscored 8-to-nil in the first 45 minutes of those matches.

“This year, by having such a deep team and so many subs, we’re going to be able to start and finish games a lot stronger,” Ellsperman said. “We really have to come out each game ready to go and eliminate mental mistakes. Our strength is our legs, and even though we’re young, we can’t let being on the road intimidate us. We just have to stay aggressive but under control on both sides of the ball.”

Sophomore defender Katelan Carneal, who started in all 19 matches as a freshman last season, believes that a positive mental attitude will lead to more victories on the road.

“It’s that trust factor, you know?” Carneal said. “We’re with each other every single day, and team chemistry leads to smarter ball movement and that’s something we’re more consistent on at both ends of the field.”

The Eagles will host two exhibition matches on Saturday and Monday before opening the season on the road against Ohio Dominican on Aug. 30.