Among the many fall sports who reported to campus a few weeks ago, none have seen more practice time and competition than the Women’s soccer.
The team is putting in an abundant amount of work in order to prepare for the upcoming season and the grueling schedule that lies ahead.
The Gusties have had many lifts, fitness testing, and have had three practices a day for the majority of preseason.
All this work they are putting in is to ensure that the players are buying into the team’s mentality and learn its possession oriented style of play, which involves a lot of fluid interchange among positions.
Head Coach Laura Burnett-Kurie is heading into her eighth year coaching for the Gusties and has high expectations for what’s shaping up to be a strong team.
Last season, the women fell short of qualifying for postseason playoffs for the first time since 2014, finishing the regular season with a conference record of 2-6-3.
The team is looking to get back to its winning ways this season and is confident in the experience they have to bridge the gap between returning and new players.
“Our group of seniors has experienced winning the conference playoff and going to the national tournament, making it to the conference tournament and losing early on, making it to the MIAC championship and losing in double overtime, and then not making it to the playoffs,” Burnett-Kurie said. “The seniors’ perspective of how to ride the highs and lows while maintaining consistency is fantastic. Being on the same page and leading as a group is going to be really important.”
Burnett-Kurie is looking to the veteran players to instill a competitive mentality and return the Gusties to the playoffs this season.
Some notable players will have key roles this season and will have a major impact on the team’s success.
The team returns three of its top five point-scorers from last season, including Senior Abby Mullenbach who recorded 15 points from six goals and three assists.
Along with Mullenbach, Juniors Katie Ashpole and Lauren Johnson will make up a large amount of the team’s attacking potential, registering seven and five points last season, respectively.
Perhaps the most influential return to the team this season, however, is Senior All-American goalkeeper Asley Becker.
Becker is returning for a fifth year due to an injury that prompted a medical redshirt last season, and gave her an additional year of eligibility.
In her junior year at Gustavus, she was named the First-Team All-America goalkeeper as well as MIAC Defensive Player of the Year.
Becker started all 20 games that season and recorded a 0.66 goals against average, 98 saves, and helped the team to a 10-6-4 record.
With the impressive experienced players returning and a competitive First-year class, Burnett-Kurie is focusing on developing a style of play specific to the team’s strengths and hopes to stick to the teams goals and plan they’ve outlined for the season.
“Even if we don’t get a victory as a final result in some of these early games, we still want to focus on playing our style of soccer, which includes interchanging positions and a lot of movement off the ball,” Burnett-Kurie said. “If we don’t move away from that then we’re going to find success.”
Aiding Burnett-Kurie this season is assistant coach Zoe Eth, who is replacing the team’s previous assistant coach, Benton Frayne, who has accepted a head coaching job at Buena Vista.
Burnett-Kurie is excited about Eth’s experience and knowledge for the game.
“We’re really lucky to have Zoe on board,” Burnett-Kurie said. “She’s played at a high level at William Smith and won a national championship. And then coached there as an assistant under the greatest Division III coach of all time, who is very defensive minded, too. She brings a fresh perspective into our defensive shape and our back line.”
The first time the team will test its new group of players and style of play will be against Carthage College at 5 p.m. August 30 in Kenosha, WI. After that, the team has a quick turnaround and will play Loras at 2 p.m. Sept. 1.
The Gusties’ home opener is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Sept. 7 against Luther College.