Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Kleis keeps UWO soccer dreams alive

Freshman goalkeeper Madd Runyan saves a shot to stop the Eagles. Runyan made 12 saves during the game.
[/media-credit] Freshman goalkeeper Madd Runyan saves a shot to stop the Eagles. Runyan made 12 saves during the game.
Junior midfielder Megan Paulick controls the ball.
[/media-credit] Junior midfielder Megan Paulick controls the ball.

On the day before the UW Oshkosh women’s soccer team faced off against UW-Stout in the first round of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Conference Championship Tournament, head coach Erin Coppernoll said sophomore forward Alek Kleis has been on fire in recent weeks.

Coppernoll was right.

On Tuesday, after entering overtime tied 2-2, Kleis was put in the hot seat for the second time this season after a Blue Devil defender had a handball in the box.

Kleis lined up to take the penalty kick in the eighth minute of OT and shot the ball just right of goalkeeper Lynn Johnson to win the game 3-2.

“I felt like I was on top of the world,” Kleis said. “All of the weight was on my shoulders to help move my team on to the next game and I stayed relaxed and composed and put it away to finish the game off.”

The loss to UW-La Crosse on Saturday resulted in UWO (9-8-1) sharing the fourth place spot in the WIAC with UW-Stout (6-10-2). UW-Whitewater (17-1) clinched the first place spot for the seventh year in a row by going undefeated in conference play.

Because UWO fell to Stout in overtime 1-2 on Oct. 15, the Titans were seeded fifth for the tournament and had to travel to Stout to play the Blue Devils, who were seeded fourth.

It took almost 36 minutes for Stout to grab the lead first in Tuesday’s game. Kelly Conn was awarded a penalty kick and blasted the ball past freshman goalkeeper Madd Runyan to put her team up 1-0. It was Conn’s fourth goal of the season.

Going into halftime, the Titans had eight shots on goal and the Blue Devils had taken nine.

In the 49th minute of the match, senior forward Rachel Elliott received a pass from freshman forward AJ Jackson and scored her seventh goal of the season to make it a tie game. Rachel would go on to shoot six more times in the match.

The Blue Devils responded 39 minutes later when Sydney Kasper tallied her ninth goal of the season on a pass from Ryanne Millis to make the score 2-1.

However, Rachel was not about to let her team lose to the Blue Devils again this season. Just 30 seconds later, the Titans were able to get a quick counterattack started.
Jackson beat her defender to the endline and slotted a perfect ball to Rachel, who then shot it six yards into the back of the net.

“I wanted to get that goal so badly,” Rachel said. “The whole team was playing great. I needed that goal because the Titans are not done yet. We’ve come up short this season when we’ve gone into overtime, but this was the one time I knew that if we went into overtime, we would come out on top.”

The teams eventually went into overtime and Kleis put the game away to help the Titans advance to the next round of the tournament.

The Titans concluded the match with 18 shots on goal, while the Blue Devils were held to 17. Rachel led UWO in shots with seven, while her twin sister Robyn Elliott tallied the second-most with five.

Runyan made eight saves during the match.

Two late first-half goals and another in the middle of the second-half proved to be enough as the UW-La Crosse Eagles triumphed the Titans 3-0 on Saturday at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.

Kleis, who had one shot against the Eagles, said there were times when Titan defenders were unable to keep up with La Crosse forwards.

“I think La Crosse is a very good team and we were just unable to capitalize on our opportunities,” Kleis said. “We struggled defending their agile forwards. They were capable of moving off the ball and were able to create many opportunities for themselves.”

Sophomore midfielder Kendra Jepson, who started in Saturday’s game, said losing to the Eagles gave her team momentum to beat the Blue Devils.

“Leaving the field on Saturday was not a good feeling because we lost,” Jepson said. “Knowing we got another chance to play on Tuesday to redeem ourselves against a good UW-Stout [team] was a blessing.”

Saturday’s game started slow for both the Eagles and the Titans. It took 40 minutes of play for either team to get on the board.

La Crosse took the lead when Maddie Granos controlled a pass from Natalie Herzog and blasted the ball 25 yards past Runyan.

Granos prevailed again just one minute later when she assisted Cassie Handrick, who ripped a 15-yard shot around Ruyan in the 41st minute of play.

The Titans went into halftime with just nine shots on goal, compared to the Eagles’ 17.

The game remained scoreless for the next 27 minutes until Herzog grabbed her eighth goal of the season in the 72th minute. Delaney Harnell crossed the ball to Herzog who rocketed the ball 18-yards past the hands of Ruyan.

The Titan defense was able to hold the Eagles to nine shots on goal in the second half, but the offense did little to contribute, only shooting four times in the final 45 minutes.

Alex Cording led UWL in shots with five and Margaret Harings trailed behind her with four. Sophomore midfielder Alyssa Arnold and Rachel paced UWO with two shots each.

Oshkosh was shut out by La Crosse goalkeeper Abbi Burke who saved seven shots in the match. Runyan, who has a 1.20 goals-per-game average, blocked 12 shots in Saturday’s game.

Runyan has played 11 games so far this season, 10 of which she started in. She has allowed 13 goals and has saved 64 shots.

Kleis said the team has complete faith in Runyan to keep the ball out of the back of the net, even though she is only a freshman.

“I think I can speak for the team by saying we have our full trust in her to get the job done,” Kleis said. “She has made some amazing game-winning saves and really knows how to distribute the ball. She stays very calm and composed in the back and has been a big component to this team.”

Oshkosh will travel to UW-Whitewater on Thursday to take on the Warhawks at 6:00 p.m. in the semifinal round of the tournament.

Knowing her team lost to UW-W 2-3 in overtime earlier this season, Jepson said she is making the most out of practice in order to be ready for the rematch against one of her team’s biggest rivals.

“I want to be the best teammate I can be and contribute as much as possible in every game,” Jepson said. “My role is to make people around me better and that’s what I try and do every time I step on the pitch.”

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