BY ADAM ROGAN | PHOTO BY CASSANDRA BAUER
After suffering its first loss of the season, Drake Women’s Soccer (9-3-1) bounced back with a 1-0 victory over the Big 12’s Kansas State University Wildcats (4-6-3).
“We were kind of in a slump,” sophomore forward Tawny Carroll said. “… It feels good coming back, especially against this team for a win.”
Carroll provided the match’s lone goal in the 42nd minute, her third of the season. It was created by sophomore defender Linda Fiorito, who crossed the ball from the right wing into the box where Carroll was able to score the header.
“The goal changed the game because now K-State had to chase a little bit. We didn’t have to press and push forward,” head coach Lindsey Horner said.
A physical match, 22 fouls were called and two yellow cards given.
“That was one of our focus points was being physical,” Horner said, “and I think we did a good job, in the second half, of matching that.
Throughout the match, the referee seemed unwilling to blow his whistle despite a plethora of hard tackles, drawing the ire of both benches and fans of both teams.
“At that point, we know we can’t rely on the ref to give us a couple extra kicks when we want them,” Carroll said. “We just got to play our own game and stay composed and not worry about the calls too much.”
Poor communication by the Bulldogs led to a handful of dangerous Wildcat attacks, but Drake senior goalkeeper Brooke Dennis was perfect in net, saving both of Kansas State’s shots on goal.
Drake cleaned up on defense in the second half. By controlling possession, the Bulldogs only allowed one shot in the second half.
“There were times when we were able to just possess the ball,” Horner said. “… Honestly, in our last two games we’ve struggled with keeping our cool and sticking to the game plan, and I thought today we did a really good job of adapting.”
Kansas State’s only second half shot came in the 53rd minute when Wildcat sophomore Tatum Wagner stole a pass and dribbled the ball into the top-left corner of the box. She beat Dennis with a ground shot that was inches away from tying the match, but the ball collided with the right post and bounced back into the grasp of Drake’s goalkeeper.
Other than that chance, the Bulldogs defense and midfield kept the ball away from the Wildcats. Drake’s offense didn’t slow either in the second half, doubling its shot total from six to 12.
The shutout is the Bulldogs’ first since Sept. 14 and eighth of the season. Although the defense has been superb throughout much of the season, it’s been inconsistent.
The Wildcats had several breakaways that could’ve become goals on Sunday, but missed, were saved or deterred by defenders. The Bulldogs had given up eight goals in the four matches leading up to the match against Kansas State, leading to two of their three losses.
On Sept. 30 at Indiana State, the Bulldogs allowed three goals in the final 21 minutes to blow a 2-0 lead that they’d held since the 26th minute.
“The Indiana State game taught us that it doesn’t work to go the other way (and get tentative),” Horner said. “We’ve just gained experience from that game.”
Being able to held onto leads, rather than playing from behind or allowing opponents to crawl back into a match, will prove crucial as Missouri Valley Conference play restarts next week.
On Oct. 11, the Bulldogs will travel to Cedar Falls to take on in-state and MVC rivals, the University of Northern Iowa Panthers.