BY JOSH COOK
The Drake Women’s soccer team had two home games this week and took advantage of it, getting two wins.
On Friday, Sept. 1 they beat University of Missouri-Kansas City with a score of 2-1 to get back on winning track after a 0-3 loss at the hands of Marquette. In this game, the veterans led the way with seniors Ali Smith and Rebecca Rodgers scoring their two goals.
UKMC scored the lone goal of the first half before the Bulldogs took over with a two-goal shutout second. A couple of days later the Drake team carried that momentum over for a dominant win.
In their second home game in three days, the Bulldogs took on North Dakota State on a hot Sunday afternoon. The Drake women’s team was in control the entire game en route to a 2-0 shutout victory, which was exactly what they wanted.
“We had a goal of getting a shutout out of this game and we did so we’re happy about that,” said Head Coach Lindsey Horner.
The game against North Dakota State was one that the Bulldogs expected to win. In these type of games, getting depth players time is key to developing a deep roster.
The Bulldogs played some of their younger players who helped lead the way to the strong victory. Both goals came from underclassmen, the first from freshman Olivia Bruce and the second from sophomore Shelley Lyjak.
“We’re still teaching them a lot at this point in the season. We still have a lot of young players, we played a pretty deep roster today,” said Horner. “They’re getting real-game experience that you can’t replicate in practice.”
This development is going to be key over the course of the season. Coach Horner said that the team is very goal oriented and uses that to stay focused on getting better.
Next week, the Bulldogs will take on the Wisconsin Badgers at home after they upset the #3 ranked Virginia Hokies. This game will not be one in which depth building will be a factor. The Bulldogs will have to come out and execute if they are to compete with a power-five conference team like that.
Horner said that playing teams like Wisconsin puts an extra burden on preparation to make sure that mistakes are cut down. For example, in the game against North Dakota State, Drake gave up a breakaway towards the end of the game that was squandered by a high shot. Horner knows that those same mistakes will not go unpunished against the Badgers.
Despite the added pressure to compete against larger programs, playing these games does provide a really neat opportunity for the athletes.
“It’s a great experience obviously, our players get up for those games,” Horner said. “You know, it’s good even if we don’t get a result, we learn a lot about ourselves in those moments.”
Learning is the main focus for now during the early stage of the season. If the Bulldogs can keep learning they can keep getting better and building on the solid foundation they have.
The Bulldogs have two more home games this week. Game one is against Wisconsin on Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. Game two is against South Dakota State on Sept. 10 at 12 p.m.