STORY BY KATHERINE BAUER
Not even seven minutes into Friday’s home match, Drake’s Rebecca Rodgers punched in the first goal at home Friday against Indiana State, setting the Bulldogs on their path to victory.
Rodgers was on her toes when she stole the ball from the Sycamores’ goalkeeper after a foiled attempt on goal from forward Hannah Wilder.
“I would say having that winning mentality, knowing that we can actually win (went well tonight),” Rodgers said. “Coaches always say expect the keeper to drop the ball and always be there.”
Getting out ahead has been a struggle for the Bulldogs so far in the season. Rodgers’s goal turned that trend around in Drake’s favor.
“We have only scored first in one game this whole season,” head coach Lindsey Horner said. “This was our second time. That’s been a big focus. We’ve addressed it many times, and we finally solved it tonight.”
Kate Johnson scored Indiana State’s only goal a quarter of the way into the game, tying the match at one.
Drake defender Brooke Salisbury was able to score towards the end of the first half to break the tie after a corner kick from Rodgers and an assist by Sarah Nicholson.
“We knew it would be tough,” Salisbury said. “They’re scrappy and tough. It’s always been a tough game with them.”
A key strategy for the Bulldogs was to disrupt Indiana’s backline. Midfielder Kayla Armstrong led the way for the Bulldogs by making aggressive passes across the field and firing off three shots, one of which was on goal.
“I just thought our attacking players were superior over their backline,” Horner said. “The game got scary as they pulled the back off and put a forward on, and we had to defend for large portions of the time. I think they were physical and they worked hard and they were aggressive in the air.”
There were many chances for both teams, but most turned into wild shots over or past the goal.
“We can work on getting our shots on target, tracking our runners,” Rodgers said. “We slacked off a little bit on that one. Other than that we’ve been playing quite well.”
Early scoring and intimidation proved vital for the women against a very aggressive and physical Indiana State. Drake’s goalkeeper Brooke Dennis was kept busy with eight shots on target from her opponents.
The Bulldogs, now 5-7, are on the road their next two games. Drake takes on Big 12 opponent Oklahoma State tonight. This will be the last non-conference match of the season for the Bulldogs, returning to opponents from the Missouri Valley Conference on Saturday against Evansville.