AURORA – The Geneva girls soccer team was supposed to open its season at Wheaton Academy this week but that match was scrapped due to shaky field conditions.
That left the Vikings in the unenviable position of starting off against traditional powerhouse Waubonsie Valley. Geneva struck first and played a decent match but dropped its season opener, 2-1, in Saturday afternoon's Upstate Eight Conference crossover.
"We've hardly been outside," Geneva coach Megan Owens said. "Nobody wants to open up their season with Waubonsie. It's a tough opener, and they've already had a game."
Given those circumstances, it was especially encouraging for the Vikings when sophomore defender Megan Kozlow's bending corner kick snuck through traffic into the net to give the Vikings a 1-0 advantage midway through the first half.
"She's got a nice, left-footed inswinging cross," Owens said of Kozlow. "She did a great job with that."
The Vikings retained that lead through halftime but Waubonsie's Kristen Dodson scored a pair of goals within the first 12 minutes of the second half for the afternoon's final tallies.
Until that point, it had been a dynamite debut for Geneva junior goalkeeper Sam Hauser.
Despite the Warriors' pair of second half scores, Owens still came away impressed by Hauser, who started the match on strong footing by punching a dangerous, floating shot over the crossbar in the early going.
"She made some really, really nice saves, and it's her first year on varsity," Owens said. "We've been indoors so we didn't know what to expect so she was a very pleasant surprise. She did a great job for us."
Geneva was unable to sustain offensive pressure in the second half, although forward Amanda Lulek and midfielder/defender Annie Waldoch each mustered solid shots on goal that would have tied the score at 2.
While several key pieces return from last year's conference champion team, the Vikings have some retooling to do, especially in the midfield.
"I think we gave a solid performance," Owens said. "I didn't see any big issues. I think we were very solid in goal. It's just getting used to playing with new teammates. It's a hard game. You couldn't make a lot of adjustments. They put a lot of pressure on you, but I saw a lot of good things."
The match, played on a chilly afternoon in front of a sparse crowd, was moved to Metea Valley's turf field.
"Ours is a flat soccer field so ours isn't going to get touched until probably spring break," Waubonsie Valley coach Julie Bergstom said. "It is what it is. Ours right now I don't even think has the goals up. I mean, they just took the plastic off. We're not even near [being able to use it]."
The Warriors (1-1) dropped their season opener against Lyons before prevailing against the Vikings.
"I think we're playing some good soccer considering it's March," Bergstom said.