Bethel women mark return with win

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Bethel junior Katy Ponce scored a goal in a 2-0 win over Oklahoma Panhandle State. Ponce was named to the All-KCAC pre-season team.

If it seems like just a couple of months ago the Bethel College women’s soccer team was playing regular-season games, that’s because it was.

The Threshers came off a short summer break to open the 2021 regular-season with a 2-0 win over Oklahoma Panhandle State Thursday night in non-conference play at Thresher Stadium.

The Threshers split last season’s play between fall and the spring because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

This season is expected to be played entirely in the fall as scheduled.

Bethel sophomore Lexia Vincenti defends a player from Panhandle State.
Bethel senior Jadin Kaltenbach takes a shot during play against Oklahoma Panhandle State.

“I feel like we’re getting right back into it,” Bethel coach Alex Hagan said. “We didn’t really get a lot of time off. We’re also returning basically the entire team we had in the spring. We had a really good spring. I’m hoping we can continue that momentum. I’m excited. We added some new pieces and some depth. I’m excited about the depth in general. When we bring a player off, the level doesn’t drop. We’re just getting better and better.”

Bethel was 6-2 in the spring portion of last season, which ended April 3 with 2-1 loss to Southwestern in the KCAC playoffs.

Katy Ponce and Claire Hedlund each scored a goal for Bethel. Sydney Brown assisted on both goals. Bethel outshot the Aggies 14-3, 11-3 on target.

Earlier in the week, Ponce was named to the conference all-pre-season team. She was a first-team All-KCAC pick last spring.

Bethel junior Cheyenne Lisle handles the ball during play Thursday against Oklahoma Panhandle State.
Bethel junior Taylor Dashney battles two players from Oklahoma Panhandle State for the ball.

“We’re trying a new formation this season and the players are trying to figure it out,” Ponce said. “We’re going from a 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2. We’re learning how to work in the back and utilize our outside wings. We’d switch side-to-side and that worked. The first half was definitely a lot harder than the second. We went back to the locker room at halftime and discussed how to break them down — switching quicker so they would take longer to get caught up. We’d get the ball to midfield and take it from there.”

Ponce said she’s trying to ignore the pre-season accolades given her.

“It’s a new year and I’m telling myself to just come out and work,” Ponce said. “If I come out and work, that’s all I can do and that’s all I can control. I’m more worried about the way I play the game and the way I focus than they opponents.”

Bethel was picked to finish fifth in the conference pre-season poll, the team’s highest predicted finish in years.

“Last year, they named us 12th,” Ponce said. “We actually beat the third- and fourth-place teams last season, so we hope to finish higher than fifth.”

Panhandle State kept eight to nine field players back on defense during much of the game, slowing Bethel’s attack down in the first half.

“We just wanted to move the ball side-to-side quickly,” Hagen said. “I think we took that and applied that in the second half and it showed. It did frustrate us in the first half, but we still have a young team.”

Bethel has pre-season exhibitions against Newman University and Hesston College, but returns to regular-season play Sept. 4 at 25th-ranked (NAIA) Benedictine.

Panhandle St.;0;0;—;0

Bethel;0;2;—;2

1. BC Katy Ponce (Sydney Brown) 47:58

2. BC Claire Hedlund (Brown) 59:34 Total shots — PSU 1-2—3, BC 3-11—14. Shots on goal — PSU 1-2—3, BC 2-9—11. Saves — PSU: My Szymanski (L) 2-7—9. BC: Vanessa Torres (W) 1-2—3. Corner kicks — PSU 0, BC 4. Fouls — PSU 1, BC 2. Offside — PSU 0, BC 5. Cautions — BC: Miki Harkins 57:11.

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com