Offensive power fuels women’s soccer

By Ryan Day and Will Sandberg |

The Flagler women’s soccer team may be in transition to Div. II, but Coach Teddy Meyer hopes the offensive explosion the Saints had in the 2007 season is permanent.

In 2006 the Saints scored 15 goals all season in 17 matches, less than one goal per game. Flagler forward Annika Hogberg has already scored 17 goals by herself, breaking the college’s single-season record for goals.

“Her [Hogberg’s] impact this year has been a bright spot,” Meyer said. “Last year we had struggled scoring goals.”

Through 18 games so far, the Saints have scored 42 goals, being shut out only twice all year. Compare that to last year when the 2006 Saints scored 15 goals all season and were shut out nine times.

And it’s not just Hogberg and her 17 goals that have been putting the Saints on the scoreboard. Seven players on the team have at least two goals. Freshman midfielder Caleigh Hodgkins and sophomore midfielder Meredith Marshall have scored their first ever collegiate goals this year. Midfielder Tiffany Urquhart, the Saints leading scorer of 2006, has had the pressure taken off in 2007 and is tied for second on the team in assists with midfielder Pam Quimby with four.

Typically when a team improves on one side of the ball, the other side suffers. In 2006, the Saints gave up 51 goals in 17 games, an average of three goals a game. In 2007, goalkeeper Hope McArthur leads a defense that has recorded eight shutouts and given up only 29 goals in 18 games, a 1.63 GAA. She’s faced 152 shots on goal and saved 123 of them, making for a .809 save percentage.

The improvement between last year and this year can be found in their attention to detail and the minor components of the game:

– Last year they were outshot 234-198. This year they’ve outshot their opponents 309-253 through 18 games. The Saints have been doing a much better job at not just possessing the ball and keeping on the opponent’s half of the field, but capitalizing on that possession by taking shots whenever the opportunity presents itself.

– Last year they had only two yellow cards all season. This year that number has jumped to 12. To score goals, you have to be over-aggressive and that’s shown to be true in the fact that they’ve scored 51 goals this year to only 15 last year.

– Last year, the team had 12 assists on the season. Through 18 games the Saints have 34. It’s not enough to think score, score and score again. You need to spread the ball around and have the opposing team always guessing where the shot’s going to come from.

– Last year they only had 44 corner kick opportunities. This year they’ve nearly doubled their number of corner kick opportunities to 95. You need to force opposing teams into giving up corner kick opportunities because they are invaluable to any soccer offense.

It keeps the ball in your possession and gives you an opportunity to head in an easy goal. It also prevents the other team possession and an easy clear out, taking the momentum away from whatever you were putting together offensively.

What says the most about this team is the fact that of the 28 players on the roster, only two, MacArthur and defender Jessica Echterling are graduating seniors. This is a team of mostly underclassmen who are overachieving, and one that will return next year with 26 returning players.

“We are really young, [but] the season is going really well,” Meyer said. “It’s been a very successful season. We have a little more to go, but I look forward to finishing [with victories].”

The Flagler Saints will look to finishing with a victory as they end their season this Wednesday, Nov. 7 in Jacksonville against the University of North Florida.

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