BC women's soccer team resumes after long layoff
The Bethel College women’s soccer team returned to play after about four months off, beating Sterling College 5-0 Wednesday in KCAC play at Thresher Stadium.
The interruption of the season was due to the NAIA’s COVID-19 plan, moving the championships of many fall sports to the spring.
“It’s a bit of a challenge, but the mentality of this group in the spring is they want to get after it,” Bethel coach Alex Hagan said. “In January, they were up at 6 a.m., doing the extra things they needed to be successful. Obviously, we’re going to continue to grow. There are still things from this game we need to work on to be better in conference.”
Katy Ponce led Bethel with three goals, the first hat trick of the season. The Threshers doubled their offensive output from the fall.
“The fall was interesting,” Hagan said. “We played our first three games, then had 42 days off. We had to deal with some COVID issues. During that time, we couldn’t practice. We couldn’t do anything. That can disrupt a flow and how they feel. … We have to view this as our season. We had 10 games scheduled in the fall, and we only played five of them. We have seven games this spring.”
Claire Hedlund added a goal with an assist. Miki Harkins added a goal. Jazlyn Reese had two assists.
“I don’t think (the break) was that bad,” Ponce said. “We all worked pretty hard in January to get in shape and make sure things were good formation-wise. It was easy because of my teammates. I was in the right place at the right time. We played inside a lot. We did a lot inside to get ready. We went to Wichita a couple times to workout on a full field. We were able to keep up, even though the weather was bad.”
Ponce is a sophomore from Chino Hills, Calif., just east of Los Angeles.
“I was looking for some place that would allow me to do nursing and soccer,” Ponce said. “A lot of colleges would have me pick one. They wouldn’t let me do both or have the opportunity. I came here on a visit and met Alex and some of the girls, and I really liked it here.”
Bethel struggled in the first half with finishing, scoring one goal despite an 11-1 advantage in total shots.
“Going into the locker room, we all took a breath,” Ponce said. “We realized what we wanted to do. We were a little rushed, trying to get things out and get set in. The second half went a little easier.”
“We created some opportunities,” Hagan said. “We made some adjustments at halftime with the movements of the forwards and looking for more high-percentage chances.”
Sterling’s Shaylee Gibbs had six saves in goal before getting injured. Field player Jayden Cunningham finished the game, posting five saves. Sterling falls to 0-9, 0-8 in KCAC play.
Bethel is 2-3-1 and hosts McPherson at 1 p.m. Saturday for senior day.
“I have confidence in our team,” Hagan said. “We’ll continue to work at it the next two days. I expect us to do well if we play well.”
1. B Claire Hedlund (Sydney Brown) 5:35
2. B Katy Ponce (Jazlyn Reese) 45:26
3. B Miki Harkins (Reese) 52:28
4. B Ponce (Hedlund) 62:11
5. B Ponce (Alayna Wallace) 64:25
Total shots — SC 1-1—2, BC 11-16—27. Shots on goal — SC 1-1—2, BC 6-11—17. Saves — SC: Shaylee Gibbs (45:41, 3 ga) 5-1—6; Jayden Cunningham (44:19, 2 ga) x-5—5; team 1. BC: Maddie Prager (W, 45:00, 0 ga) 1-x—1; Mariah Vallejo (45:00, 0 ga) x-1—1 Corner kicks — SC 0, BC 4. Fouls — SC 1, BC 0. Offside — SC 0, BC 4. Cautions — none.
Mark Schnabel can be reached at email@example.com