COLUMBIA — The Columbia College women's soccer team had struggled to get its offense going in recent games, in part because of a rash of injuries that has hurt the team's depth.
But the Cougars, who had lost their previous four matches, broke out of their slump with a 4-0 victory on Tuesday against Missouri Baptist (4-7, 1-1 in conference) at R. Marvin Owens Soccer Stadium.
Columbia College (3-6, 2-0 in American Midwest Conference play) has been forced to adapt on the fly to the injuries, including a season-ending ACL injury to junior midfielder Lauren Beishir. Junior goalkeeper Erica Ramirez, who recorded the shutout in Tuesday's match, said the team has been open to making adjustments.
"We have a team of utility players. Girls are able to get into a position they don't normally play and impact the game in a positive way," Ramirez said.
Junior midfielder Stephanie Hale, who led the Cougars offense on Tuesday with two goals, said the team's chemistry also played a role in adapting to injuries.
"We've become more whole as a team. It's less about the individual and more about coming together to change the team's dynamic," Hale said.
Cougars coach John Klein has seen the impact not having a full rotation of players has had on his team. He said the Cougars have controlled the first half of most of their games, but have fallen off later, which has cost them victories. Klein uses a rotation to keep his players fresh during games, but said the injuries have caused his team to fall short of its potential.
"Injuries and a lack of depth have us where we are record-wise," Klein said. "Adding some finishers and more depth, and we could be looking at an elite team down the road."
Tuesday's game against Missouri Baptist started out slow, with the Cougars mustering only two shots on goal in the first half. Adjusting players' positions at halftime paid off with a breakaway goal in the 48th minute by Hale, with an assist coming from freshman forward Kelly Ross.
The scoring tapered off until the final six minutes, when a flurry of three goals broke the game open. It started with a goal by junior defender Elise Castellanos via penalty kick after a tripping call in the box in the 84th minute. Hale scored her second goal with another assist from Ross two minutes later off of a corner kick. The fourth and final goal came from junior defender Rylee Bruhn.
The Cougars play next against Lyon College on Sept. 29 in Batesville, Ark.
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.