The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Scots look to beat Augsburg and keep playoff hopes alive

By Jamie Macpherson

The women’s soccer team is on a mission: they need to win their game tonight against Augsburg in order to remain in the running for the conference playoffs. The Scots, having tied their last two games against St. Catherine and Gustavus Adolphus, currently stand in 6th place, with a conference record of 5-3-2. If they beat Augsburg tonight, the Scots will knock both Augsburg and St. Benedict out of the running and advance to fourth place. “It’s like a 3rd playoff game,” Head Coach John Leaney said of tonight’s game. “You don’t even look at a tie. If you don’t win, you’re out.”

Regardless of the game’s the final score, Leaney said he will still be satisfied with the season. He said that although Macalester has always had high expectations for the women’s soccer team, a spot in the playoffs became an unlikely goal as one by one Macalester’s forwards succumbed to injuries.

“If we don’t win, we haven’t done enough in the season to make the playoffs,” Leaney said. “But I still consider the season to be a successful one.”

Leaney points to the defense as one of the team’s strengths. Macalester shut out their opponents in six of their 10 MIAC games. While this is an impressive feat on its own, it’s more interesting considering the team’s dynamic. Typically a high-shut out rate reflects a team with a strong offense- the forwards control the ball, keeping it on their opponent’s side of the field, leaving the defense with little to do. With this year’s team however, the offense has been severely weakened due to injuries, and the defense has had to step up their play.

“Defense has had to fight and claw their way in the game,” Leaney said, sighting Kelsey Speer ’10, Liz Hormann ’09, Maddy Mette ’10 and Goal Keeper Jenny Lee ’09 as key players. “They’ve flat out kept us in the running for possible playoffs.”

So what do the Scots need to do in order to win the game? First off, the women will look to score the first goal. Last year, Augsburg beat Macalester by one goal, and the Scots have learned from the experience.

But other than that, Leaney said the team wouldn’t be making many changes, as changes are often disruptive to the team dynamic. What’s more important, he said, was focusing on the team’s psychological ability to compete physically. Leaney said that this issue has little to do with the actual size of Macalester players, rather it has to do with the desire to win.

“We need 11 players out on the field who can play to their potential against bigger, stronger players,” Leaney said. “The last two games we’ve clearly known we’ve had better players, but we were weaker and frailer, and St. Kate’s and Gustavus exploited that.”

Tonight’s game holds special significance for an additional reason: it’s the senior team-members’ last home game. With 11 graduating seniors-four of them starters- the Scots will be losing a large portion of their team. Leaney views the high number of seniors as the sign of a healthy team, referring to the senior’s pride and spirit as “the kind of record you’d have some football coaches with 100 players be proud of.”

“We’ve never been a team that has needed to rebuild,” Leaney said, “but next year we’re going to need to buy into that.”

Leaney commended the successful performances of the current freshmen. “Our first-years have actually come through and showed potential. Lucy Miner ’12, Jenna Machado ’12, Matea Wasend ’12, we’ve yet to see the best of them.”

So do the women stand a chance of winning tonight? Leaney believes they do, based on the defensive strength of their team, combined with the supportive atmosphere under the Mac floodlights. “I think if you ask the Augsburg Coach,” Leaney said. “You can bet your life he’s a lot more nervous than I am.

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