Saint Xavier’s women’s soccer team entered the season with fresh faces—all hopeful that the 2016-2017 season would be different. Unfortunately, so far, that has not been the case. In fact, for Coach Strehlau, it’s a case of deja vu. Through four games, the team has yet to register a win. The team drew their first game against Chicago State, drew against Bethel College after being up 2-0, and lost against Cornerstone University and Aquinas College. The reason why this might be deja vu for Strehlau is that it’s pretty much a carbon copy, in terms of results, for Saint Xavier. Their record through four games last season was also zero wins, three losses, and a draw against all the same opponents except for one. Their goal differential (-6) being slightly worse than their current of (-4).
Perhaps more disappointing is that the team started off the season playing their first four games at home. Last season, the team only played one game at Denton Field. Saint Xavier have not been able to utilize home field advantage. However, it’s not all bad news. There are definite bright spots that Coach Strehlau can point to in order to keep his team motivated.The biggest, bright spot is their goalkeeping. While the team’s goal differential is negative, it would have been a lot worse had it not been for the goalkeeping by junior Carly Bledsoe and sophomore Ashley Smialek. These two have certainly been busy so far. Bledsoe and Smialek have split time in goal with both playing two games each. Bledsoe played in the games against Chicago State and Cornerstone University. She made a combined twenty saves including some impressive one-on-ones. Aside from the saves, Bledsoe is also stepping up as a leader on the pitch. She’s constantly instructing her defenders and trying to keep her team from putting their heads down.
Smialek has also been forced to make her share of saves. The freshman made her Saint Xavier debut against Bethel College on August 30. She faced 21 shots and made 4 saves in the 2-2 draw against Bethel. Two of her saves came in the second period of overtime, helping maintain the draw. Smialek set a career high in saves in her next game against Aquinas College making 10 saves on the night. Saint Xavier seems to be in safe hands with Smialek and Bledsoe.
The team has struggled to create chances this season and if that continues to be the case, the team’s defense is going to have to step up.
Despite some outstanding performances from their goalkeepers, they are not going to be able to stop everything. The defense needs to minimize the amount of shots it allows opponents.
This is not new information for Coach Strehlau. He knows where his team needs to improve.
We all know it takes time for new players to adjust in a team. They have a solid base at goalkeeping and will be fine no matter who starts in goal.
The team heads out on the road to start a four-game road trip. First up is Lourdes University on September 9. Let’s hope Coach Strehlau and his players can sail the ship and get their season back on track.**(Note: Saint Xavier played to a 0-0 draw against Lourdes University in 2OT)