The Eagles enter conference play with just one win
AU will be tested against a Patriot League opponent for the first time this year when the team takes on Colgate at home
A quick glance at the AU’s women’s soccer schedule so far this season will reveal that one thing is not like the other. A nearly constant series of “L’s” fills the right column on the schedule, a mark of both AU’s close games and the blowouts. UMBC, Campbell, George Mason, Mount St. Mary’s, Monmouth, Tennessee--- they all ended in identical ways.
And then, on September 8th, change finally came. Just eight minutes into the game against Longwood, junior Kira Flaherty found herself in front of the net with the ball and helped reverse the losing trend that had haunted the Eagles for the first month of their season. An assist from sophomore midfielder Audrey Denkler help set Flaherty up to send the ball flying past Longwood junior goalkeeper Maria Kirby and give AU a 1-0 lead that the Eagles maintained for the entire 90-minute game.
“It was all smiles, everyone was real amped,” Flaherty said, reflecting on the win several days later.
The victory was not only sweet for Flaherty, who recorded her first goal on the field in over a year, but it also served as a milestone for freshman goalkeeper Amy Krotine, who earned her first collegiate shutout.
Described as naturally confident by fourth-year head coach Anabel Hering, Krotine stepped up in the net at a time that her team really needed her. She recorded eight saves against Longwood and has nearly split playing time with fellow freshman goalkeeper Morgan Lang. Both freshman have big shoes to fill to maintain the stable goalkeeping presence set by recent graduate Charlene Belanger, but Krotine said the win earlier this month helped her stay motivated for the games to come.
“It felt really good after that game,” Krotine said. “It was nice to get the first win under our belt, especially as a freshman goalkeeper. The shutout gave us a little bit of confidence that we needed.”
The Eagles have a chance to put all of the previous losses behind them and start fresh this weekend when they take on the Colgate Raiders in the first conference game of the season. Colgate currently holds a 2-3-3 record and beat the Eagles 3-1 in their last matchup held nearly one year ago in Hamilton, New York.
While Colgate also holds an overall lead in their history against AU, Hering said she looks forward to the game and sees the opportunity to play conference opponents as a fresh slate for the season.
The Eagles have struggled in the last several weeks with injuries to key upperclassman including senior captain Marley Jennings, but with a new squad of freshmen and a focused attitude, Hering said improvement will come as time passes and the team readjusts.
“We do have to make sure that we are working on the back line because we have had some injuries, so we are trying to figure out tactically some changes and just working on repetition and repetition so that they play as a unit, but also mental approach to games,” Hering said.
Krotine echoed her coach's tactical comments and emphasis on the team’s attitude heading into games as an important component in putting together a winning performance.
“Our back line, it really needs to be more connected, we need to stay tighter, and we need to hold each other accountable when it’s not good enough,” Krotine said. “Sometimes we’re like ‘oh, get the next one.’ No, it has to be better this time, and that’s the mentality we have to possess going forward.”
AU has a chance to start 1-0 in the conference and earn enough wins to secure a playoff spot at the end of the year, but the road won’t be easy. With an 1-7 record, the Eagles will need to stay confident and connected on the field, or they could risk continuing with the same pattern of losses that defined the first month of their season.