MILWAUKEE – A pair of first-half goals from McKaela Schmelzer and Natalie Auble was all the Milwaukee women's soccer team needed to take care of Detroit Mercy, 2-0, Friday night at Engelmann Stadium.
The Panthers (8-1, 1-0 Horizon League) dominated the Titans (2-5-1, 0-1 Horizon League) the length of the contest, outshooting the visitors by a final count of 22-to-4 while also finishing with 64 percent of total possession.
"Obviously, if you get three points in the conference opener, it's a great start," head coach Troy Fabiano said. "I thought at the start we should have played quicker. We have to find a way to keep our level up and just continue to move the ball faster."
The shots came fast and furious starting in the eighth minute, seeing Haley Johnson get turned away on a breakaway opportunity. MKE kept up the pressure, peppering the Detroit Mercy net with six more shots – five on target – over the next four minutes.
"She (the Titan GK) made a couple of big saves early on," Fabiano said. "I think in the second half, we weren't as dangerous. You get five games at home – it's a great atmosphere – fans come out and support us. We had another great student section and the kids feed off of that."
The next shot opened the scoring, coming on a corner kick in the 19th minute. Gaby Schwartz continued her run of success on the CK attempts, sending the kick to the far post, where Schmelzer was there to head back to the near post and in for her second goal of the season.
The Panthers ended up with 13 first-half shot attempts, doubling their lead in the 44th minute. Rafferty Kugler played a give-and-go with McKenna Stratton on the wing. Her service into the front of goal nearly went in, with the partially-saved shot falling to Auble, who finished calmly with her right foot to make it 2-0 at the 43:51 mark.
The offense had numerous chances to add to the scoreboard, but a 12-save performance from Cece Muskovac allowed no more goals the rest of the way.
A flurry in front in the 53rd minute nearly produced another MKE tally, with Mackenzie Schill and Haley Steel both getting close-range attempts saved.
Johnson also had another near-goal in the 66th minute, seeing a brilliant save keep the ball out of the net on a great buildup from Kugler and Schmelzer.
For the contest, Milwaukee finished with that advantage of 22-to-4 in shots, as well as 14-to-1 in shots on goal and doubled-up the corner kick tally at 4-to-2. Auble paced the offense with four shots, matching the four she had totaled so far this season in just 49 minutes of action.
The defense allowed fewer than five shots for the third time this fall to post its third shutout in a row. Elaina LaMacchia needed just one save to post her 10th career clean sheet.
Up next, the Panthers are finally back on the road, heading to Ohio for a Saturday matinee against Cleveland State Sept. 28. Game time is set for 3 p.m. CST.