Unselfish approach yields big success for ETSU Women's Soccer
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 23, 2014) - The ETSU women's soccer team—leading NCAA Division I in nearly every offensive category—has been turning heads this season. A selfless, team-oriented mentality has helped vault the Bucs to the top of both standings and headlines.
Currently in first place in the Southern Conference, ETSU is in the midst of a record-setting campaign that is entrenching the program as a regional contender.
ETSU, which features the nation's top scoring offense, surpassed last season's win total within the opening month this year, earning eight wins in the team's first nine games, a program-best start.
Since then, the Bucs have showed no signs of slowing, suffering only one loss since Sept. 26, and positioning themselves atop the SoCon standings with just one regular season match remaining.
"Obviously, there is a long way to go, and a lot still to play for, but we are very proud of the team's efforts and accomplishments this season," ETSU head coach Adam Sayers said.
Paced by Hannah Short (Bristol, England) and Sarah Zadrazil (St. Gilgen, Austria), the Bucs lead the nation in goals (67), assists (69), and points per game (11.22).
Just this week, ETSU overtook No. 3 Virginia, which boasts a 14-1 record, as the nation's top scoring offense. The Bucs are averaging nearly four goals per contest, and have scored three or more goals in all but five matches.
"To lead the nation in so many categories is quite an honor," Sayers said.
Short, the nation's leading goalscorer, has already set ETSU single-season records for goals (23) and points (54), while Zadrazil, the nation's leading assister, has posted a new single-season record with 18 assists.
Zadrazil, who is the active career leader in NCAA DI for assists per game (0.78), has matched or tied ETSU's single-season assists record in each of her three seasons in Johnson City.
Following an unbeaten weekend in league play, Short and Zadrazil were featured by national publications this week, with Short earning a spot on espnW's "Top 5 Things You Need To Know" women's soccer recap, and Zadrazil being named to TopDrawerSoccer's Team of the Week.
While Short and Zadrazil have enjoyed career-best seasons, ETSU's record-setting campaign has been a product of a mentality that places emphasis on unity and team success rather than individual accolades.
"There have been some spectacular individual performances so far, but they are a direct result of the team's collective performance," Sayers said.
Impressively, 17 of ETSU's 19 field players have found the scoring column this season, resulting in 67 goals, the most the Southern Conference has seen in more than a decade when Furman tallied 83 goals in 2000.
Seven players have recorded 10 or more points for the Bucs, including Jasmin Dutton (Kinmel Bay, Wales) and Simona Koren (Graz, Austria), who each rank among the SoCon's Top 10 point scorers. Dutton (1G, 16A) ranks second in the nation for assists, while Koren (12G, 5A) ranks No. 12 in NCAA DI for goals per game.
"So many players have performed exceptionally well to provide the platform for us to excel offensively," Sayers said. "Cecilia [Re] and Emilee [Engelhaupt], for example, in deep midfield have been brilliant," Sayers said. "The new players have performed very well—Garazi [Murua], Paola [Roversi], Kendall [Manning], Megan [Horner], Jil [White], and Alba [Llaras]. We lost Alba to a serious injury last week, which was a big blow, and our thoughts are with her.
The seniors have done well in providing leadership and stability," Sayers added. "Simona [Koren], Thomai [Vardali], and Jasmine [Elliott] were injured for large parts of last season, and it has been great to have them back."
Having won six of their last seven matches, all league contests, the Bucs are looking to continue their historic campaign as ETSU concludes regular season play Sunday, Oct. 26 at Western Carolina in Cullowhee, N.C.
"We have changed the lineup and system of play several times, based on what each game and each opponent has demanded, and the players have adapted very well to the changes," Sayers said. "Every member of the squad has contributed in a very important way."
The Bucs are hoping Sunday's trip to Cullowhee will not be their last this season. The semifinal and final rounds of the Southern Conference Women's Soccer Championship will be held in Cullowhee Friday, Nov. 7 and Sunday, Nov. 9, respectively.
"It has been a real team effort, and in order for us to be successful at this stage of the season, we will need more of the same."
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