CHICAGO, Ill. – Second-half goals by Haley Johnson and Gaby Schwartz backed an 11-save performance by goalkeeper Allie Strottman as the Milwaukee women's soccer team claimed a 2-1 victory over DePaul Thursday at Wish Field.
The Panthers (1-0) took advantage early in the second half against the Blue Demons (0-1), scoring twice in less than nine minutes to prevail in the season opener for both teams.
The story of the afternoon was Strottman, who was making her first collegiate start. After appearing in just a pair of games as a freshman a year ago, she continued to make save after save, including three key stops in the final 10 minutes of regulation to preserve the one-goal victory.
"That's a really good way to open the season," head coach Troy Fabiano said. "It's always a challenge to play on the road and that is a tough environment. That's a good win for us."
Milwaukee had to make the most of its chances after being outshot, 20-to-5, in the contest. After recording just one shot in the opening period, MKE matched that in the first 60 seconds following intermission.
Julia Barajas just missed opening the scoring, sending a left-footed rocket off the left post. Just a few minutes later, it was Barajas again, finding Johnson streaking down the field. After gaining possession, Johnson fired back to the far post and past the keeper, making it 1-0 at the 51:37 mark.
The Panthers continued to push and converted an opportunity under 10 minutes later. Taylor Hattori took possession and went charging down the left side, getting tripped up in the penalty area to earn a foul and the penalty kick.
Schwartz stepped to the spot and converted off the post, making it 2-0 at the 60:23 mark.
The Blue Demons got one back and broke up the shutout in the 63rd minute to halve the deficit. The ball that went in came off a deep free kick from the sidelines. Strottman got her hands on the attempt, but could not make the clean stop and the ball trickled across the end line and in.
She made up for it in the final 10 minutes with a trio of impressive stops. In the 81st, she went charging off her line, grabbing a free kick from just outside the box before it snuck in the corner.
In the 84th, she was in the right place to stop a solid header off a corner kick and in the 86th minute, she collected another tough attempt to round out her day.
The second half certainly provided more action, with 20 of the 26 shots coming in the frame. That helped Milwaukee make up for a first half that did not consist of many serious threats.
For the game, DePaul also posted a 12-to-1 advantage in shots on goal (in addition to the 20-5 total shot lead), but the defense was up to the task all game. The Blue Demons also forced nine of the 13 corner kicks. On offense, Barajas led the way with three shot attempts.
The home opener is up next, with the Panthers welcoming Northern Illinois to Engelmann Stadium Sunday. Game time against the Huskies is set for 7 p.m.