Women’s Soccer Falls to Nationally-Ranked Wheaton Squad 3-2 in Season Opener
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
By Mark DeHaan
Looking to start off the season on the right foot, the Calvin women’s soccer team had a tall task ahead of it Tuesday afternoon when it played host to the national runner-up and 4th ranked foe Wheaton Thunder.
Hanging with the more experienced Thunder for much of the first half, Calvin’s young roster showed a lot of energy and fight in the opening half hour of play but ultimately fell by a 3-2 score when the final horn sounded.
Unfortunately for Calvin, Wheaton opened up the scoring in the 30th minute of play when Thunder senior Keri Shannon put the ball into the far-netting from the top left corner of the box, giving Calvin junior keeper Ashton Hearn no chance at the save.
The game remained 1-0 in Wheaton’s favor through half time and early into the second half before another Thunder goal, this on a header in the center of the penalty area, extended the Calvin deficit to 2-0.
But, showing plenty of resolve, Calvin fought back. Freshman Paige Capel, coming off a year of recovery from an injury, made her way into the open field to find herself one-on-one with a defender in the 63rd minute. Cutting past the defender and then dribbling past the diving Wheaton keeper, Capel scored the first goal of her career to cut the Thunder lead to 2-1.
Wheaton answered less than ten minutes later on a rebound in the box to once again push its lead to a pair of goals at 3-1.
With time running out on the Knights, a fortunate bounce off a defender on a shot by junior Kelly Koets once again gave energy to the Calvin squad as Wheaton’s lead was trimmed to 3-2 with 15 minutes remaining in the game.
This was where Wheaton’s experience and endurance would pay dividends, however, as strong passing and smart play allowed the Thunder to control the ball for much of the remainder of the game and run down the clock to hand Calvin a loss in its first game of the season.
Despite the loss, Head Coach Mark Recker was pleased with the play of his youthful squad against a very talented Wheaton club.
“We had a lot of freshmen on the field today, and I think those freshmen stepped up real big,” said Recker. “We have a lot of potential knowing what we’re capable of against the kind of quality competition that we faced.”
Goalie Ashton Hearn was big in the net for Calvin, making 13 saves and stepping up to make a few crucial stops to keep the Knights in the contest.
“This is a really good start for (Ashton), to come out and play this big. (Wheaton’s) staff acknowledged that she came up big, and when an opposing coach acknowledges (their play), you know your player did your job.”
The Knights, now 0-1 on the young season, look to rebound when they host Illinois Wesleyan at Grand Rapids Christian High School this Friday night, with the opening kick slated for 5:30 pm.