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Soccer looks to rely on chemistry as Conference USA opener looms

Soccer looks to rely on chemistry as Conference USA opener looms

Soccer looks to rely on chemistry as Conference USA opener looms
September 16
13:30 2021

Soccer is heading into the divisional games of their schedule with a matchup against Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton on Thursday at 6 p.m. Their following eight matchups will be against Conference USA teams before potentially heading into the Conference USA tournament. Senior and team captain forward Olivia Klein is confident in her team, which is currently on a two-game winning streak.

“I think going in with two [consecutive] wins we’re going in with a lot of confidence,” Klein said. “We’re ready to tackle FAU and come home with a win so we can start off the [divisional] season strong.”

The Mean Green’s (5-1-2) last two wins came against Stephen F. Austin University and Abilene Christian University (1-4), holding both opponents to zero points and seven shots. Anchoring the defense is goalkeeper Sarah Fuller, recently named C-USA player of the week.

Freshmen defender Jori Foote said that the reliableness of Fuller gives her more confidence as a communicator on defense.

“She gives you a lot of trust,” Foote said. “She’s that talker behind you that keeps you together.”

Junior forward Allie Byrd was also named C-USA player of the week, thanks to her three goals of the weekend and her clutch performance against Abilene Christian. While the team was shut-out for most of the game, Byrd managed to score two goals within six minutes of each other in the last moments of the game.

“Allie definitely finds a way to put the ball in the back of the net no matter what circumstance she has,” Klein said. “It was an off game for our team, and in the last 15 minutes [of the game], she found a way to put two away, and she had three goals for us last week.”

Byrd has not lost sight of the team. She emphasized that the win against Abilene Christian came from the way they were able to create chemistry within the team in the second half rather than any one players’ specific performance.

“I think that [in] the second half [against ACU] we played more together,” Byrd said. “We connected better together, so I feel having that confidence of being able to know when we connect [and] when we do play together, we will score. We do that [in] our conference games, then we’ll be successful.

Even with the positive vibes, the team has not forgotten about what happened in last year’s pandemic-stricken season, where the Mean Green lost to Charlotte University 0-1 in the first round of the C-USA tournament.

“I think last year we were a little thrown off by the season being in the spring,” Klein said. “So, I think we came in ready to play before that last game.”

In the first-round game to Charlotte, the Mean Green outshot the opponent 18 to six, had five corner kick opportunities to Charlotte’s zero and committed fewer fouls during the game. Nevertheless, they could not convert their shots into goals, and it cost them.

Byrd believes that the team was looking too far into the future rather than focusing on the opponent in front of them.

“I just think we weren’t prepared [or] ready to play,” Byrd said. “I think we thought we were just gonna come in and take care of business [against Charlotte] and I think shot it way too lightly, so we suffered the consequences.”

Like Byrd, Klein believes that they will succeed as long as they play together and not apart.

“Our chemistry [will get us further],” Klein said. “Everybody here is positive-minded and ready to work and win a championship. We all want the ring, and that’s our goal.”

Featured Image: Sophomore defender Haley Roberson prepares to clear the ball from a Stephen F. Austin defender on Sept. 10, 2021.Photo by Zachary Thomas

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Paul Witwer

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