Women’s soccer players have common goal, but different concerns

Posted September 23, 2015

Sean McKuras has been head women’s soccer coach at UW-River Falls for 14 seasons. He has had a lot of success bringing teams to Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) championships and this year he plans to bring another.

McKuras said the reason he has been so successful with his teams is the athletes.

McKuras has coached a player into the WIAC Player of the Year award along with a total 15 players into the All-WIAC team. In 2003 McKuras took the Falcons to be the fourth most important team in the nation.

The connection that the team has to McKuras can be seen and heard on the field. The team can joke with him and McKuras has a simple explanation for that: “The way that we recruit is that we don’t just recruit good soccer players, we try to recruit good people.”

The team has four seniors: Lizzy Bruder, Missy Barnett, Jenna Marier and Megan Haninger. All of them plan to end their college soccer careers with a WIAC title. With a new year comes new players and the biggest concern that the four seniors have is not knowing how each other operates.

“It takes time for everyone to click so I think moving forward every day and practice and in games is really important,” Barnett said.

The team has just finished its seventh game with a win against Saint Mary’s University, leaving the Falcons with 3-3-1 record so far this season.

Although the women all want to win the WIAC title, they all have different reasons for joining the team.

“I played at a different school for three years,” Bruder said. “I talked to Sean because I wanted to finish up my last year of soccer and joined the team because I heard it was a great group of girls and he didn’t lie.”

Marier’s reasoning is simple and needs no other explanation: “For the love of the game.”

The Falcons have welcomed seven new players: Maggie Koehler, Caroline Meier, Ashley Swanson, Emily Swanson, Erika Lagoon, Katie Marthaler and Dani Prady. Lagoon is ready for this year and said that she hopes to form a good bond with her teammates and learn how to play with them so next year they, too, can be successful.

Unlike the seniors, Marthaler has different concerns about this year: “My biggest concern is trying to figure out how everyone plays since I’m new to the team.”

Friendship also is important to the team.

“Our team is honestly a group of best friends and I think that’s is really rare to find,” Barnett said. “Also I would really just put a 110 percent into my senior year and give it all I have and if it breaks bones it breaks bones because it’s going to be the end eventually.”

Bruder said the last four years as a college athlete have been an honor.

“When we were younger we put so much time and effort into this sport and to see you play up to your absolute fullest potential, up to the highest level,” she said. “College soccer is huge and to finish off all four years in college is just a really big goal of everyone.”