SAN DIEGO — Showing the other team what they’re capable of doing — that was just some of their motivation on Sunday when the San Diego SeaLions took the pitch against Ajax America Women for their home opener.
The SeaLions routed Ajax 6-0 and since the beginning of the season, haven’t allowed a goal in league play so far.
“As a center back it’s always more important to me to have that zero up on the score board than six goals,” said SeaLions’ first-year defender Nikki Krzysik.
She credits the growing chemistry between the defense and the communication they have on the field. Not only that, but goalies Kaycee Gunion) and Rachel Locke are fantastic, Krzysik said. “They always have our back if we make a mistake, and they make us look good.”
Offensively, the SeaLions have scored 10 goals, all-coming at the expense of Ajax, who they opened the season against on the road, winning 4-0.
Head Coach Jen Lalor-Nielsen said the team didn’t have to make too many changes to the game plan, since the two teams’ last meeting.
What she wanted to see of her team was their speed of play on the field.
“I feel like this team is up another notch and another level of making the game so pretty to watch, and making the ball move and do the work and that’s going to open up the gates for people that are individual specialists that can take people on. And that only can happen when our speed of play is quick.”
Some of the quickness displayed, the SeaLions moved the ball well, has stemmed from the team’s expectations for raising the bar on strength and conditioning commitment levels.
“It has been very good,” Lalor-Nielsen said. With practice twice a week and the remaining time spent in the gym, Lalor-Nielsen said that has made the team more focused throughout the week.
“And it’s that hard work that is going to be able to be seen in games,” she said. The fitness they maintain will make the game easy, she added, and will contribute to the high level of performance.
Apart from their expected commitment levels for this season, Lalor-Nielsen said the team has their goal and they know what it is. Taking a one game-at-a-time approach, she added that they have to make sure that they’re better than they were in the last game they played.
And so far, she said, she’s seen that improvement, even in practice. “And so being able for them to actually do it and see it in games and at being successful, I think that that has been the ticket.”