Column: Austin girls soccer team makes strides

Published 9:19 pm Monday, September 3, 2012

A lot of times in sports, teams and media members alike like to talk about a ‘statement’ game or how a team can make a statement just by how they play the game.

The phrase is often an overused one, but I feel it truly applies to what the the Austin girls soccer team did last week.

The Packers not only beat Albert Lea for the first time in seven years, they did so convincingly. Austin was so aggressive in the first 10 minutes of the contest that they very well could’ve been up 3-0 instead of just 1-0.

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The Packers came out with aggression and didn’t let up.

The win wasn’t just big because Albert Lea is a rival, it’s big because it signifies how far the team has come under head coach Enrique Camarena-Corzo, who played professional soccer for 14 years and took over Austin’s girls soccer program last year.

The Packers (2-1 overall) had just six wins in three years before Camarena-Corzo took over, but they’ve been a different team since last season, when they almost knocked top-seeded Albert Lea out of the playoffs in a 1-0 loss.

Camarena-Corzo has brought in a program that works his players and gives them motivation to strive to get better.

Austin’s roster is also an advantage as the team is set to compete now and in the future. The team has five seniors to lead them this season in Kristen Karlson, Taryn Sims, Brianna Byam, Carley Grunewald and Nicole Lipari.

The squad also starts a freshman goal keeper in Chloe Summerfield, who already has two shutouts this season.

What speaks louder than the wins and losses for the Packers is what some of the players in the squad have done. Against AL, junior Hannah Voogd, who was one of Austin’s top scorers for the last two seasons, was on the defensive side of the ball chasing down the Tigers’ speedsters.

Sophomore Carolyn Hackel was also unselfish as she gave up a couple of chances to take a shot and passed instead. Hackel’s first decision to pass paid off as she found Grunewald for an easy score.

Camarena-Corzo said the team has even more girls out for soccer this season than it did last year and that growth can only help a program that looks to be on the rise.

As impressive as Austin’s 2-0 win over AL may have been, the most standout moment to me was the reaction the team received at halftime, before the game had even been decided.

As the Packers were heading to their sideline I looked and saw Austin’s fan base giving their team a standing ovation — and it’s been a while since I’ve seen one of those.

Maybe there will be more to come as the Packers continue to improve throughout the season.

Austin will play at Rochester Mayo Thursday at 7 p.m.