Nine games into the Rebecca O’Shurak era and the Cobber women’s soccer team is rolling. O’Shurak has led the Maroon and Gold to a 4-4-1 record through her first month behind the bench as she and her team aim for their first winning season since 2015.
O’Shurak took over this past spring when Kevin Roos departed after posting a 45-41-10 record in five seasons at the helm for the Cobbers.
O’Shurak is the seventh head coach and the first ever female head coach in the history of women’s soccer at Concordia College.
She had previously been an assistant head coach at Youngstown State and Tennessee Tech before coming to Moorhead. In her playing years, O’Shurak tended goal for Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. She posted a career goals against average of 1.27 in four years for the Gators.
In her first season for the Cobber women’s soccer team, she has targeted small goals first.
“Our goal is to compete in every single game and practice,” O’Shurak said, “We are not really looking beyond that. We are going to do it day by day.”
The Cobbers finished 11th in the MIAC last season with a record of 5-10-3 and have missed the playoff each of the past two seasons. With that caveat aside, Concordia is not far removed from success.
Concordia won the MIAC women’s soccer championship in 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2012 and finished as runners-up in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2011, and 2014. This success played a large role in O’Shurak accepting her new position.
“When you’re looking to turn around a program like we are at right now, we want to see what the capability of that program is and if it’s capable of doing really great things,” O’Shurak said. “We have won the conference tournament and regular season multiple times. That’s incredible. We have had All-Americans in this program, which tells me that right now we are capable of getting back to that point.”
There are four new additions to the Cobber women’s soccer team that O’Shurak believes will make an immediate impact on the field. These new players are goalkeeper Alexis Jemtrud, midfielders Kay Franzese and Taviahna Tanin, and defender Olivia Murdoff.
“All of our newcomers are a great asset to our team and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do on the field,” O’Shurak said.
Senior defender Erin Eidsness, who captains the team, is feeling optimistic about the newcomers.
“I love them,” Eidsness said. “I love all my new teammates. There are a lot of them. We all get along and are just one big family.”
Eidsness expects this season to be better than last year. Likewise, senior midfielder Kirsten Bokinskie, who is a co-captain of the team, looks at last season as a stepping stone for the future.
“I think we learned some resiliency [last season] and that we are capable of doing things that people sometimes think we can’t,” Bokinskie said.
Both Bokinskie and Eidsness have been core members of the team and, as captains, lead the team both on and off the field.
“I think our team is pretty young right now,” Eidsness said. “We just need some experience and more practice working together.”
Bokinskie believes that the team, now nine games into the 2018 season after a tie at Macalaster on Tuesday, has performed well.
“We have already improved this season,” Bokinskie said. “We’re scoring more goals this season than we were last year.”
The team is scoring at a rate of 2.75 goals per game, a huge improvement over last year’s total of 0.72 goals per game.
Coach O’Shurak believes she has the pieces to build a contender out of the current squad.
“I think it is a competitive culture and we are trying to get used to that competitive atmosphere,” O’Shurak said. “We are all buying into it. The competitive atmosphere is there and we are at a point in our season that we are getting close to where we want to be. The team is rising to the challenge and just getting to the point now that we just need to finish out the game. We know that once we finish that off we are good to go.”
If the team makes it to the playoffs, it would be their 10th postseason appearance and first since 2015. The women’s soccer team returns home to face off with Carleton on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. before hosting Northwestern (Minnesota) next Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.