Women’s soccer wins first game of season: ‘Remember what this win feels like’


Mohammed Islam

WSU Women’s soccer team achieved their first victory on their second game of the season against Northern Michigan University, 1-0 on Friday, Sept. 10 at Altra Credit Federal Union Stadium.

Teresa Anderson

On home turf, the Winona State University women’s soccer team won against Northern Michigan University (NMU), 1-0, in a highly aggressive and hard fought game last Friday, Sept. 10.
Unlike their first game of the season against UW-Parkside, Winona State kicked off their second game with a craving to touch the ball. Anchored behind a motivation to win, Winona State’s fourth-year goal keeper, Yanel Ortiz, shut out every shot on goal.
Within the first half of the game, NMU heavily played on the Warriors’ side of the field, but Winona State’s defensive line up firmly blocked and persuaded away their opponent’s attempts. In the 21st minute of the first half, Bailey Deininger, third-year defender, blocked a shot in front of the Winona State’s goal using her back. The crack of the ball on impact echoed across the stadium as onlookers gasped. Vital defensive blocks such as this assisted Ortiz in disallowing the opponents to score.
The Warriors broke through NMU’s defense during the first half by breakaway plays. Winona State’s defense booted the ball up the field for players like Missy Greco, fifth-year midfielder and forward, to work up towards Jaida Weige, third-year forward. These attempts quickly reversed back to Winona State’s side.
In the seventh minute of the first half, Winona State’s forwards teamed up with a series of close shots on goal. Those in the stands became a soundboard of awe and excitement watching their Warriors battle on the field. The Winona State’s defense worked hard during the first half, but as soon as the forwards possessed the ball, the Warriors became deadly towards their opponents.
Straight away at the top of the second half, the Warriors came out of half time blazing, energized and motivated. The ball immediately found its way on NMU’s side, and in the 39-minute mark, Weige shot on goal twice with the NMU’s goalie tackling and hitting away the attempts, being worn down by the Warriors’ offense to make way for the goal of the game just six minutes later.
Unassisted, Riley Harmon, fourth-year midfielder and forward, found the opening in the NMU’s defense and kicked a rocket shot into the back of the goal at the 33-minute mark. The crowd loudly cheered, the Winona State bench players jumping and hugging each other in excitement as the scoreboard raises Winona State up 1-0.
Following Winona State’s score, NMU rushed to answer but was woefully denied, even at the 31-minute after a NMU corner kick which created a mob pit at the foot of the Warriors’ goal.
As the minutes ticked by, the intensity in the stands and on the field became palpable. Winona State continued to fight for their win and every single Warrior played in tune with each other and with their technical movement across the field, tracking the ball and running after every opportunity to make another play.
In the last minute of the game, NMU’s attackers pushed towards Winona State’s goal and the crowd was on their feet, screaming for White to kick it out. Hannah Dunlavy, second-year defender, amazingly stopped a possible shot on goal and kicked the ball out of bounds.
The clock hit zero and the Warriors celebrated their first win of the fall.
Coming out of UW-Parkside’s game, Coach Matthew Kellogg did not think the team fought for the whole 90 minutes, but the team fought for the win in Friday night’s game against NMU.

“I thought this was a great step forward for our group and as a whole,” Coach Kellogg said. “Today, every single ball that went in, we fought for. The goal… that was a hard fought goal. Coming out of it, I’m really happy with it. I’m happy with our ability to fight for 90 minutes.”
When preparing for Friday’s game, adjustments to game play, especially defensively, became the essential key to their first win.
“We knew that NMU was an aggressive team going into the game,” Harmon said. “We had to be ready for that.”
Friday’s game marked a crucial opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the season going into the conference competition. Harmon contributed the only score on the board but recognized the importance of the week’s practices leading up to help land the shot.
“Our team knew that we needed to hold the ball and find our players at their feet to be successful in this game,” Harmon said. “I contributed to the game by receiving the ball at my feet and holding players off and then finding that next simple pass to build out. Once we started to settle down in the game and connect passes, we found a lot more opportunities on goal, which resulted in a win for the team.”
During preseason, Winona State won every scrimmage they played, but seemingly lost their touch in their first game against UW-Parkside. Coach Kellogg recognized the pattern.
“We tried to simplify our game and get back to what we were doing in preseason,” Coach Kellogg said. “We kind of lost our way a little bit and it was about our midfielders playing quick and moving to support each other and the forwards being able to hold the ball so that we can get them in numbers.”
Ashley Hewitt, a third-year forward, focused her energy on her first touch when receiving the ball, an important element of controlling the pass in order to drive towards the goal. During practice, Hewitt and the other forwards worked to pass the ball back towards their midfielders, utilizing the space and coverage it creates against the defensive line of the opposing team.
“This way, we can hold the ball and possess it better than when we take on a defender 1v1,” Hewitt said. “We also have been implementing specific defending for the forwards and really trying to make the other team’s defenders uncomfortable enough that they turn the ball over.”
Coach Kellogg noticed his players struggling to warm up within the first half.
“I thought that in the first 20 minutes of the game, we struggled with [moving the ball up] a little bit, but as the game wore on, I think our kids got back to the discipline and everything we worked on this week you could see come out in the second two-thirds of the game,” Coach Kellogg said.
Hewitt’s examination of the team’s overall play was in accordance with Coach Kellogg.
“Next game, we can work on starting and ending the game consistently,” Hewitt said. “Our team tends to start on a low note and then after we get comfortable, the play gets better; however, we need to come ready to play right from the start so that we don’t give up a goal in the first half.”
Hewitt shot three times and three shots on goal.

WSU midfielder Camryn Cadiz, in an attempt to tackle the ball away from a Northern Michigan University defender. Winona State now sits at 1-1-0 and will play at home on Friday, Sept. 17 against University of Sioux Falls. (Rosalie Richardson)

“I thought I made some good runs and played slip balls well,” Hewitt said. “I really focused on working hard to defend their back line so that I could prevent the other team from connecting passes.”
After the game, the adrenaline, the high, the excitement captured every single player, and Harmon latched on to the words her coach said.
“At the end of the game, Matt said, ‘remember this feeling’ and that stuck with me,” Harmon said. “I know I will never forget how I felt after yesterday’s game and I know my teammates and I want to continue feeling that feeling.”
Hewitt agreed with Harmon, also noting Coach Kellogg’s words.
“After the game, our coach said ‘remember what this win feels like,’” Hewitt said. “He meant that we won because we outworked the other team and if we work this hard every game, then we will walk off the field with a win.”
Passion, motivation, endurance and comradery build the structure of a great team and Coach Kellogg teaches his players to encourage and root for their teammates who are on and off the field, creating a supporting and family-oriented culture.
“All week long we are fighting against each other, but once we get to game day, it’s us versus them,” Coach Kellogg said. “I kind of explain it as, ‘it’s you and your siblings.’ You know, you’re always fighting and you can call your sibling a name but as soon as someone outside of your family does? Then no, that’s off limits.”
Even bench players equally affect the score of the game by striving to cheer on and praise those hustling on the field.
“I’m super pleased with whoever was on the bench, if they just came off or they hadn’t come in the game, everyone was pulling and supporting the kids that were on the field,” Coach Kellogg said. “It was beautiful.”
Winona State now sits at 1-1-0 and will play at home at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 17 against University of Sioux Falls.