UWO soccer will look to defend title

Jacob Links, Sports Editor

The UW Oshkosh women’s soccer team will look to defend their Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) title when they kick off their season Thursday at Ripon College.

The Titans, forecasted to finish second this season in the WIAC Preseason Poll, had the most wins in program history (16) last year en route to their first ever outright conference title.

Head Coach Erin Coppernoll, the winningest coach in program history, helped the Titans to their third conference tournament championship last season. Coppernoll, who won WIAC coaching staff of the year honors, recorded her 200th career win last year and sits fourth for all-time WIAC wins.

After securing an automatic bid into the 2021 NCAA Division III Tournament, the season ended earlier than many hoped as UWO fell to Wheaton College in the first round on penalty kicks.

UWO hopes to continue their offensive hot streak into this season after they scored 52 goals in 20 games, the most goals per game in the WIAC last year.

Junior Rylie Kaufmann will lead the Titan attack this season after a phenomenal 2021 campaign where she led the team in goals (eight), assists (seven) and points (23), earning her all-WIAC accolades.

Kaufmann said it was exciting to see how hard work individually and as a team paid off during last season.

“We have a hungry competitive mindset,” she said. “We don’t want to settle for what we accomplished last year and we are hungry to get farther in the NCAA Tournament this season.”

Kaufmann said that bringing in a large class of freshmen can sometimes be hard to integrate them into the team. “But this year, we have hit the ground running and you can tell with each practice how much more comfortable they are becoming. Our speed of play has also been getting better as we become more comfortable as a team.”

She said the team does well when they play one-two touch, which makes the speed of play fast. “We have such a versatile group that we can play many ways,” Kaufmann said. “We have a lot of speed on the outside which allows us to play through balls through the defense, but we also like playing to feet and working the ball around until we find our chance on goal.”

Sophomore midfielder Molly Jackson will look to build on her freshman season where she won WIAC Newcomer of the Year, scoring five goals and having four assists while starting every game.

Senior Mackenzie Bennett will lead the Oshkosh defense after a breakout 2021 season where she led Titan defenders in goals (six), assists (two) and was named WIAC Defensive Player of the Year.

The Titans will continue their season-opening road trip at Bethel University and Macalester College on Saturday and Monday, respectively, before their home opener Friday, Sept. 9 against Calvin University.