Women’s soccer offense and defense improve together

Dillan Schorfheide, Women's Soccer Reporter

The phrase usually associated with sports says the best defense is a good offense, essentially saying that a great defense is needed to win games.

But when the defense is not playing its best, the offense is needed to put some runs, points or goals on the board, depending on the sport, to help give the defense a break.

For Eastern’s women’s soccer team, the defense and offense have been able to help one another so far this season.

“They go off each other. If the offense scores, it helps the defense feel like ‘Man you know what, if we just shut this down we’re going to get a W.’ And if the defense is doing their job and blocking shots and making it extremely difficult (to score), then absolutely it gives some time for us to get that goal and change the game,” Eastern director of soccer Kiki Lara said.

That was the case for the women’s team on Sunday afternoon against Indiana State. The Panthers gave up a goal in the 33rd minute and did not allow any more goals after that. Panther freshman Pilar Barrio scored in the 48th minute to tie the game, which ended in a 1-1 tie.

Last season, the team’s offense did not score enough goals to help keep the team in the game throughout the year.

The team gave up 30 goals last season, while scoring 10 of its own, creating a scoring gap between the team’s opponents and itself.

Lara said last year was the first year that the players were acclimating to the style of play the team was after, adding that it takes time to get used to it.

In two games so far this season, the team has scored three goals, 30 percent of the goal total from last season.

Lara attributed this to the team being more physically fit this year.

“We’re 100 percent more committed to just having a very resilient mentality,” he said. “Last season, we just didn’t have nearly the team fitness or the individual fitness required to step in and compete right away.”

Lara said that along with the fitness and resilience, “it’s obvious to us”, that the team has invested time technically and tactically.

Junior midfielder and defender Kate Olson, who scored a goal against IUPUI Friday, said she has seen how the offense has played differently this year.

“The difference from last year to this year is the creativity within the offensive line that has made us more successful,” Olson said. “We have always focused a lot on keeping possession of the ball, but now we have incorporated more dangerous attacks against the defense by passing around them.”

Olson added that both the midfielders and defenders are taking more offensive opportunities for themselves.

As Lara said, the offense and defense feed off of each other to play well, and while the offense has showed early signs of improving from last season, the defense has also shown it according to Lara.

The defense did it the same way as the offense; they are more physically fit and more tactically “astute.”

With the way the team plays, Lara said, there is no offensive line and defensive line. All the players are committed to playing two sides of the ball.

As Lara mentioned, it takes time to get used to the system.

“A lot of the girls have been put in the system for a year now, year and a half, so some of the fruits of our labor are happening now,” he said.

And the “fruits” of the team’s labor are happening at an important time for the team; the beginning of the season.

He said it is vital that the team has started off on the right foot this season.

“It gives them just a little more belief, a little more confidence, that we’re going on the right path,” Lara said.

The women’s team has two home games this weekend. Friday the Panthers host Green Bay at 3 p.m., and Sunday they host Milwaukee at 12 p.m.

Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]