Photo by Cassandra Bauer | Staff Photographer
BY ADAM ROGAN
Drake Women’s Soccer’s undefeated start has finally met its end, after 30 days of unbeaten play. The start was the best in program history and third-best ever in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Bulldogs (7-1-1) conceded two first half goals to the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits (5-4-1) on Sept. 18. Drake was unable to respond and the match ended 3-0, the second time the Bulldogs have been shut out and the first when they’ve given up more than one goal this season.
It was the Bulldogs’ first loss since Nov. 6, 2015 — more than 300 days ago — when their season came to an end at the hands of Loyola University in the second round of the MVC Tournament.
The Jackrabbits scored both of their first half goals in the same manner. Utilizing speed on the wings, they got the ball behind Drake’s defensive line and crossed to the far-post and beat junior goalkeeper Haley Morris.
The Bulldogs held possession for much of the second half, which opened opportunities for potential goals, even if they weren’t able to capitalize.
“We had a lot of offensive chances, they just happened to put away theirs,” junior midfielder Brooke Salisbury said.
The Bulldogs logged three shots within the final 10 minutes of the match- one that bounced off the crossbar, one that was saved and one that flew high.
SDSU’s third goal came in that span, counter-attacking for a breakaway score.
Salisbury and senior defender Sarah Grace Nicholson mentioned that the defense needs to prevent getting flanked in the future.
Although head coach Lindsey Horner wasn’t disappointed in the team’s defensive performance in light of SDSU’s first half onslaught, she felt the offense could’ve been more protective of and smart with the ball.
“We weren’t able to apply the same pressure to them when we had the ball,” Horner said.
Nicholson considered the loss an important lesson that will help the team in the long-run.
“We’ve been on such a high lately that we haven’t really experienced the feeling of loss,” she said. “Seeing this loss and understanding how bad it hurts, and also seeing places that we can improve upon before conference play, is huge for us because we haven’t really been exposed in areas we were exposed in on Sunday.”
The Bulldogs don’t have time for respite after the loss. Drake competes again tonight at the University of Missouri – Kansas City before returning home on Sept. 25 to start the conference season against the University of Evansville.
The UMKC match will be the Bulldogs’ fifth in 13 days, four of which have been on the road. Minor injuries and fatigue, as well as augmenting schoolwork, have been wearing on the players, but Horner only sees these exterior distractions as a natural part of every college season.
“It’s no different than a lot of what other teams face at some point in the season, this was just the week that it kind of caught us,” she said. “… All of our players know of the importance of conference and how crucial all the points are once you get in there.”