Lady Blues warrant Hornets stingless in 6-0 loss

Perfection planning Washburn head coach Tim Collins instructs his team at practice last Wednesday prior to the Lady Blues thrashing of Emporia, 6-0, on Saturday. Collins has revamped his team’s mindset after an 0-2-1 start while watching its record improve to 3-2-1 with three-straight wins of three goals or more.

In its last three games, the Lady Blues soccer team has discovered that saying “sorry” off the field gives them less reason to apologize for the performance in games.

Washburn has won each of its last three matches, all on the road, by at least three goals, in part because of its new methods for building team chemistry. Having fun together may have seemed difficult for the Lady Blues after they began the 2007 season with an 0-2-1 start, but the team had a few ideas to turn around a season that was not living up to expectations.

“For our last few games, we’ve switched roommates when we play on the road,” said junior forward Danielle Ayala. “We play board games with each other and we get to know other people on the team a little better.”

Sorry and Candy Land are not the typical ways a team deals with a rough start to the season, but with a roster so loaded with new faces, chemistry was one asset the team needed to develop to achieve its goal of improving on last year’s Sweet 16 finish.

“It’s helped the team chemistry by staying with different people and being with other people who you aren’t used to sharing a room with or talking to quite as often,” said Ayala.

The Lady Blues’ new team mindset was more evident than ever in last Saturday’s game at Emporia State. In the third match of the four-game road trip, Washburn shutout its instate rivals 6-0. Squashing the Hornets is no longer a big deal for the Lady Blues, who have won five straight Turnpike Tussle match ups, but the way this game was played made the victory one of the most lopsided in Washburn soccer’s five year history.

“We did really well getting shots off and had a lot of shots on goal,” said assistant coach Grady Woodruff. “We scored six and could have had more, but some of the shots bounced off the bar.”

In Saturday’s game, the No. 21 Lady Blues broke school records for shots with 48 and shots on goal with 22. All-American Jessica Mainz was the player most responsible for the rewriting of Washburn’s record books, shooting 10 times and recording the school’s first ever hat trick. Goals from Mainz and junior Traci Nigg gave Washburn a 2-0 lead at the half and a 25-0 shot advantage. Ayala took 13 shots and rounded out the team’s scoring by knocking in her second and third goals of the season in the second half.

While the six goals are impressive, the Lady Blues defense played equally well. Freshman goalkeeper Ashley Klone picked up her second shutout and only had to save one of Emporia’s two shots in the game. The team enters Wednesday’s game at Central Missouri with a 13-1 goal advantage over its last three games and has improved its record to 3-2-1. The board games the Lady Blues play in their hotel rooms evidently translate into a monopoly on the scoreboard and praise from their coaches.

“They’ve been playing much better these past few games,” said Woodruff. “They’re having more fun and it’s helped them improve as a team.”