Women’s soccer opens season with a tie


Rob Le Cates

Goalkeeper Daniela Bermeo, a fifth year player, clears the ball during the Panther’s first game of the season on Thursday afternoon at Lakeside Field. The Panthers and Valparaiso University Beacons tied.

Autumn Schulz and Kate Stevens

The Eastern women’s soccer team opened their 2022 season at home Thursday evening with a tie against Valparaiso.

Head coach Jake Plant said that opening the season with a clean slate is more than ideal.

“Anytime that you open up [the season] not conceding, we love that,” Plant said. “I think that there was some really good aspects of what we’re doing both sides of the ball. We defended well, we attacked well.”

Senior midfielders Kenzie Balcerak and Amanda DaSilva both said that opening up the season with a tie was nothing to hang their heads about.

“I think it just depends on how we’re playing, you know, like if we’re in there, we fought hard today,” Balcerak said. “We were doing the right things and it came out to be a tie. So I mean, we’re happy with how we performed, we’re just missing that last piece.”

“It’s like everyday we are working on something different,” DaSilva said. “I think this week, we were really focusing defensively and I think we are winning a lot more tackles and staying connected.”

The Panthers were outshot by the Beacons 8-2 in the first half. Three of the eight shots for the Beacons were on goal. After a quiet first half, the team adjusted well to changes made at halftime.

Number 20, freshman Midfielder Ella Onstott unsuccessfully attempts to intercept the ball away from Valpariso’s Allie Anderson, a senior midfielder, during the Panther’s first game of the season Thursday afternoon at Lakeside Field. The Panthers and Beacons tied the game. (Han Byer)

“We asked the girls to adjust some things at halftime, they did really well. They just did everything we asked them to,” Plant said. “The only thing we were short of was stealing the goal at the end there, so yeah, very happy for a good start.”

Despite the quiet first half, 5th year goalkeeper Daniela Bermeo had three saves to give the Panthers some momentum going into the second half.

Both Plant and his players spoke highly of Bermeo’s performance and look forward to the rest of the season with her at goalkeeper.

“We would be lost without her, I’ll put it that way,” Plant said. “She does great stuff, she made big saves. She’ll make big saves this season, too.”

“It definitely brings the team up like when we are able to work hard,” Balcerak said. “There’s times when we slip up and she’s always there to back us up and that’s what we need and that really brings our spirits up.”

“Yeah, she’s our eyes everywhere,” DaSilva said. “So she really has to command and she definitely does that.”

The Panthers will look to pick up their first win of the season this Sunday against Purdue Fort Wayne. Plant said capitalizing on scoring will help lead the team to their first win.

“Just capitalize on it using momentum. We beat IUPUI, we got a clean sheet against Valpo; they’re gonna probably, you know,  be one or two in the Missouri Valley,” Plant said. “They’re like a conference championship type team. So we want to just keep capitalizing and building belief for the team. They need to believe they can win conference.”

Balcerak and DaSilva said that the team needs to have more confidence in the final third of the game.

“I think just confidence in our final third, making sure that we are confident on the ball, possessing the ball, rotating the ball, and lastly, finishing,” Balcerak said. “I think we got it there and we’re right there, we just got to work on finishing and finishing hard.”

“Just connecting more, being more aggressive up there because we definitely get it up there fast,” DaSilva said. “We’re really confident, but once we get there, we just need to finish what we created.”

Sunday’s matchup against the Mastodons will begin at 3 p.m. at Lakeside Field.