Bethel battles against one of its top rivals St. Kate’s, which moves to third place in the MIAC with a 1-0 win.
By Aaron Heckmann, Hannah Hunhoff, Ella Roberts and Anna Pearson
Junior goalkeeper Izzy Smith punted the soccer ball halfway across the field at Ona Orth Athletic Complex after less than three minutes of the game, hoping to start Bethel off with possession. The St. Catherine’s defense gets to the ball right away, bringing it back like a boomerang, but can’t catch Smith off her guard. The ball slides across the dewy grass aiming for the right corner into the gloved hands of Smith– the first of six swift saves throughout the night that kept the Royals in the game.
Bethel went up against long-time rival, St. Kate’s, at the home field of Ona Orth Wednesday night, playing its “best game yet,” Smith said. They brought the momentum through countless back-and-forth possessions, saves and strong teamwork. In the end, St Kate’s beat Bethel 1-0.
“We really tried to focus on coming out– especially in the first half– with a lot of urgency, intentionality and intensity, just knowing that we can play our game and set the tone,” Royals senior midfielder Hannah Hansen said.
Play after play, Bethel players decked out in white uniforms, knee-high socks and bright blue pre-wrap rally together, as Smith stands in her aquamarine goalie uniform and paces back and forth.
Linder said the team played “amazing”and was the better team off the bat. Even though the Royals only shot on goal once in the first half, they were controlling possession.
“I thought in the first half, we were more dominant than they were and then second half they get the goal, but I thought we like competed super well, and we got our chances,” Linder said.
After rushing up the field, the Royals turned the ball over near the Wildcats’ box. That subsequently led to a three-pass sequence for St. Kate’s, which led to a breakaway goal in the bottom left corner.
Trailing 1-0, BU was given a fighting chance with a free-kick 15 minutes into the second half. Bergan, winding up her right leg, meets the ball with power and the ball takes flight, curving right into the diving hands of St. Kate’s goalkeeper Kate Praetz.
“I feel like the pressure was super high, like they had really good energy…it made it a fairly stressful game in that regard,” Praetz said. “But they’re a good team, they brought the energy. So it was a good game, it was fun.”
Junior defender Kelsey Bergan finished the game with all three of the Royals’ shots on goal. Bethel had nine of the game’s 24-shot attempts.
“That’s the next step for us really, is just kind of putting away those chances,” Linder said. “And so there’s a little bit of lacking some confidence when we get in front of the goal, and that’s something that we keep working on.”
The youngest fans near the stands replicate the state of the game right before their very eyes by grabbing an extra soccer ball and running behind the bleachers. Passing plays and kicking the ball back and forth with enthusiasm and glee, a little girl turns to her brother and screams, “I got it…I can be the goalie!” No matter if a win or loss takes place, watching collegiate soccer on a 70-degree Wednesday evening this autumn was enjoyed by Bethel and St. Kate’s fans alike.
Captains Jess Van Wyk and Hansen said the loss to St. Kate’s will serve as a learning experience to forge stronger communication and plays leading up to their performance this weekend. This upcoming Saturday, Bethel plays Carleton College, which leads the MIAC.
“This group, this team, is fun,” Hansen said. “We have a lot of potential, and that is coming out in little spurts and little glimpses, but if we can find a way to connect and really get something going on Saturday it could be really fun, so I’m excited.”