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Women’s soccer kicks off season with win over nationally ranked team

Freshman+forward+Rachel+Edge+moves+the+ball+down+the+field+in+The+Rock%27s+1-0+home+win+over+No.+22+West+Virginia+Wesleyan+College+Thursday+afternoon.
Freshman forward Rachel Edge moves the ball down the field in The Rock's 1-0 home win over No. 22 West Virginia Wesleyan College Thursday afternoon.

Freshman forward Rachel Edge moves the ball down the field in The Rock's 1-0 home win over No. 22 West Virginia Wesleyan College Thursday afternoon.

Paris Malone

Paris Malone

Freshman forward Rachel Edge moves the ball down the field in The Rock's 1-0 home win over No. 22 West Virginia Wesleyan College Thursday afternoon.

Karl Ludwig, Rocket Contributor

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The Slippery Rock women’s soccer team opened their season on Thursday with an upset win over No. 22 West Virginia Wesleyan University.

Junior forward Kaitlyn Barackman fired The Rock to a 1-0 victory in front of a home crowd of 117 fans.  On a warm, late-summer afternoon, The Rock started their season on a high note with a victory that could have been much more drastic after The Green and White dominated possession and more than tripled the Bobcats’ shots on goal.

Last season in this game, The Rock lost a close contest to start off their season 0-1-1. Head coach Jessica Griggs feels as though this season’s result will help with morale going forward into PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) play.

“When you get a win against a nationally ranked team, your confidence is high,” Griggs said.  “When you start out the season with an immediate win, you’ve got a lot of confidence. That’s what I think that this is going to help with, just building off of that confidence.”

The win over No. 22 West Virginia Wesleyan gives The Rock their first win over a ranked squad since 2014. The Green and White upset California University of Pennsylvania who was ranked sixth nationally.

In the tenth minute of the first half, senior forward Skye Kramer made a run into the Bobcats’ box, slipping behind defenders, before sending a blistering cross from the left side. Barackman’s deft first touch enabled her to calmly slip the ball past Bobcats’ keeper Chelsea Hubner for the 1-0 lead. The official time of the goal was 9:40.

Strong team defense allowing only three shots and senior goalkeeper Kylie Downs making a big save when called upon led to the Bobcats’ forwards being completely stifled all game.

“Kylie has a really cheeky way about her, like, she’s got a sassiness about her in goal,” Griggs said.  “It comes with experience, and to be fair she’s confident and when you can have a keeper who’s confident and smart and a little sassy… that’s huge. Her experience has been great for us.”

The dominating performance no doubt put the rest of the PSAC on notice, but Griggs and the team are not satisfied resting on their laurels.

“I think a little bit of composure,” Griggs said about improving upon this game. “I thought we were very well organized, I think our back line is just continuing to be strong, but certainly composure especially when we just feel the pressure coming on.”

Barackman led contributors with two points from her goal; she also attempted two shots with one on goal. Collecting the game-winning goal brings Barackman’s total tally to five since the start of last season. Kramer contributed with a point on her assist while also attempting two shots with one on goal. Junior defender Madison Johnson also registered a shot on goal.

“Our team, man, they’re just fun; they just work,” Griggs said.  “I mean, yeah, obviously individuals like Kait (Barackman) with the goal is great. Maddie Johnson and Elise (Forry) at center back. You know Skye is a funny kid because she knows the expectations really well.”

The Rock held advantages in shots, shots on goal, corner kicks, possession and committed five fewer fouls than the Bobcats. Griggs feels this year’s team is already dialed in.

“Overall, when the team understands the expectations completely, that’s what stands out,” Griggs said. “When the team is onboard and on the same page with the expectations.”

The Rock begins PSAC play at 1:00 PM on Saturday, September 1st against Kutztown University in Kutztown, PA. The Green and White hope to avenge last season’s 2-1 defeat at home to the conference rival.

In the end, the biggest takeaway from upsetting West Virginia Wesleyan 1-0 can be summed up in three words by Griggs.

“Scored a goal.”

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Women’s soccer kicks off season with win over nationally ranked team