There are going to be questions for any team which loses 11 seniors from the previous season, even one which lost just one game.
Two games does not guarantee an answer but the signs are positive for the 2011 St. Joseph's soccer team. The Angels defeated Pattonville 3-0 in their season opener Tuesday and followed that with a 5-2 triumph over Notre Dame Wednesday at the Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park.
"At least half of the team is underclassmen so we are learning each other's skills right now, our strengthes and weaknesses," Angels senior defender Brittney Kuster said. "I think we can be as strong as we were last year."
And that is very strong as the Angels outscored their opponents 82-12, losing only in their final game against Incarnate Word.
"There were times where we had six or seven sophomores on the field today," St. Joe's coach Maureen McVey said. "We are very young in the midfield with (sophomore Lexi) Boschert, (sophomore Haley) Kavanaugh and (freshman Kaley) Nieters. Most of these girls were studs on the junior varsity team last year and they are going to get knocked around a little on this level. I thought they did very well against Pattonville and played well again today after another slow start."
The Angels started slowly in the loss to the Pirates and found themselves down a goal Wednesday after a brilliant goal by Notre Dame senior standout Michelle Auer.
"She went through the whole team," McVey said of Auer, who scored four goals in the Rebel season opener against Gibault. "I put Brittney Kuster on her after that and she did a good job."
Notre Dame was able to keep the lead until the Angels scored a pair of goals within two minutes of each other late in the first half. A lot of the St. Joe's experience this year is up top and a pair of seniors scored the first half goals. Jessica Kelley scored on a rebound of a free kick by Claire Vogt while Lauren Flynn tallied after good ball control from another senior forward, Abbey Stock.
Kavanaugh scored in the first three minutes of the second half to give the Angels some cushion. Vogt and Tori Magaletta would add goals to give the Angels a 5-1 advantage before Auer, who will be playing soccer at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, scored the final goal.
"I know Michelle from basketball and club soccer and she is strong," Kuster said. "She is a very good player."
But she was not able to do it by herself Wednesday against the balanced scoring of the Angels.
"I thought we played well in spurts today," Notre Dame coach Jeff Robben said. "We played a strong 27 minutes to start the game and then we allowed two goals in a two-minute span and another one in the first couple of minutes of the second half. You can't do that against a good team like St. Joe's and hope to win."
Notre Dame fell to 1-2 on the young season while the Angels improved to 2-0.