|Furman senior forward Molly Dwyer has a team-high|
five goals this season. Photo courtesy of Furman.
After an overall successful run through its non-conference schedule, the Furman women's soccer team will open Southern Conference play Friday when the Paladins host VMI at 7 p.m.
The Paladins (4-2-1) are coming off a 2-0 victory over Kennesaw State in their last non-conference game. Coach Andrew Burr said it was his team’s best performance of the year.
"Our problem has been those two-minute runs where we lose focus," Burr said. "I thought Sunday was the first time when we had 90 minutes of total focus, where everybody was ready. It was just dominant from the opening whistle."
Those lapses of focus attributed to Furman's two defeats - a 3-2 loss to UAB and a 2-0 loss to Presbyterian which snapped the Paladins' 11-game winning streak in the series.
While Furman's non-conference schedule has wrapped up, there's still stiff competition between junior Allie Cutler and sophomore Kellsey Weaver for goalkeeping duties.
"We’ve got a great battle going on at the goalkeeping spot. It’s anybody’s spot right now, which I love," Burr said. "Allie does a really good job of being a vocal leader, and that creates a sense of confidence for our players. Kellsey played a good bit of minutes in the goal for us last year, so she has some real experience."
Furman’s backline, which allows only 6.6 shots per game, is anchored by senior Quinn Lombard and junior Virginia Poe.
The Paladins bring a dynamic attack on offense, one that's only improved in recent years.
"We’ve got some real crafty players offensively," Burr said. "We’ve got 6-8 players that can score. In the days of (all-time leading scorer) Stephanie DeVita, if you marked her, you had a chance of beating Furman. Now you’ve got 6-8 kids to try to mark, and it’s going to be real difficult for teams to defend.”
Furman has four players that have tallied at least three goals. Led by senior forward Molly Dwyer with five. Sophomore Amanda Baker has found the net four times, while sophomores Treva Aycock and Caitlyn Reilly have three goals apiece. A total of 10 Paladins have scored goals this season, and Furman has 20 goals in its four wins.
Sophomore Claudia Murphy and senior Rachel Shah have five and four assists, respectively, and Jenny Allen has netted two goals to lead an impressive midfield. One that Burr thinks is one of the Paladins’ strengths.
"We are getting really good leadership and are all on the same page," Burr said.
After facing the Keydets on Friday, the Paladins will host UNC Greensboro Sunday at 2 p.m. Sunday will be a rematch of last year's SoCon championship, which Furman claimed.
The following weekend, Furman will hit the road for just the second and third times this season. The Paladins play at Mercer on Friday, Sept. 29 before moving on to Charleston to face rival The Citadel on Sunday, Oct. 1.