The KU women’s soccer team is off to another great start and currently are ranked seventh in the Atlantic Region of the NSCAA/Continental Tire NCAA Poll. The Golden Bears are 5-3 overall, with a record of 3-1 at home, as well as an impressive 4-1 record in conference play. Their Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) dominance began early in the season with a 2-0 win over Shippensburg University, but their most recent games have been their most exciting.
The excitement started with a decisive 3-1 win over Lock Haven University and an amazing win over Slippery Rock University. Going into the Saturday afternoon game, the Rock’s goal keeper Dana O’Neil had not let in a single goal. They went into the match against KU with an overall record of 3-0, and were ranked 5th in the nation.
In the first half, the teams exchanged corner kicks, shots and a few great chances and, other than a break-away shot by KU’s Taylor Higgins and an even better save by O’Neil, the first half was pretty even on both sides. That is, until Slippery Rock’s Caitlin Binder delivered a pass to Kara Mullins who scored a heartbreaking 42nd minute goal.
“We did address some of the tactical things we had to work on, that was first but the other thing I did say was that I was tired of being better then teams and losing.” Coach Burstein said about his words to the team during halftime. He went on to say that he believes KU was better than the teams KU has lost to this year, and that he knew his players could rally from this position because they had been there before.
The Golden Bears took the speech to heart, and in the 48th minute (just three minutes into the half), senior Sam Costello and freshman Diana Malanga delivered for the first goal scored on Slippery Rock all year. No more than 10 minutes later, the two connected again, this time with Malanga assisting Costello for a shot which sailed over O’Neils head before falling into the net to put KU in the lead for the first time in the game.
The final goal of the game came in the 59th minute, when a Slippery Rock foul led to KU’s BrieAnn Shipkowski placing the ball right in front of none other than Costello, which she headed in to record two goals on the day.
Costello and Malanga were clearly the stars of the game, each delivering an assist and at least one goal. Once these goals were scored, Slippery Rock couldn’t seem to overcome the momentum, and at the end of the game, KU had recorded 13 shots, compared to the Rock’s 4.
Coach Burstein was especially pleased by Costello and Malanga’s performance in the game, saying, “The future of our program is in great shape.”
He also said that Malanga was a tactical key to KU’s win, due to the fact that (in a move the coaching staff had been discussing for a while) she was moved into a position that she doesn’t normally play.
Riding the momentum of their thrilling victory, the Golden Bears started a four-game conference road trip, starting with Bloomsburg University. KU once again had a stellar game in which goalkeeper Casey Behrendt did not allow a single goal. Costello continued her scoring success in the seventh minute of the game, and the highlight goal of the day came when Shipkowski scored a goal from an impressive 40 yards back. KU finished the game with another scoring barrage, recording 22 shots, with Costello and Higgins recording three shots each.
KU hit a slump in their most recent game against East Stroudsburg after bad weather pushed back the start and the Golden Bears lost 1-0. The only goal of the game came when Lauren Buchanan-Dwyer gave an assist to Michelle Gogolen in the 42nd minute of the game, putting the ball past KU goal keeper Alina Rakiewicz. East Stroudsburg also finished the game doubling KU’s seven shots with 14 of their own.
Despite the most recent loss, KU is 4-2 in their last six games, in which they’ve out-scored opponents 11-5. No doubt Coach Burstein and the Golden Bears will continue their success, especially with a .800 win percentage in conference play. Kutztown looks to end the road trip on a high note at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania on September 29.
By Nicholas Carson