Kearney, Neb. – The Nebraska-Kearney women’s soccer team, despite being a player down, tied Southwest Minnesota State, 0-0, Sunday afternoon at Ron & Carol Cope Stadium at Foster Field.
The Lopers are now 0-1-1 with the Mustangs at 0-0-2. This is the first-year college soccer isn’t playing overtime during the regular season. In the early game, Winona (Minn.) State downed East Central, 4-2. WSU is now 2-0-0 with ECU 0-1-1.
UNK was dealt a blow about 25 minutes into the game when 2021 All-MIAA selection and defender Lily Engeman (Olathe, Kan.) was given a red card for tackling a Mustang. Because she was the last line of defense in a breakaway situation, she was removed from the game and UNK went with nine field players the rest of the way.
“(Being down a player) was an on-the-fly type of moment. I didn’t really thing about it too much … it was more of what can we do to counter what they are playing with. Their formation was a 3-5-2 so they wanted to overload the mid field and overload our center backs,” said first-year head coach Rob Breton. “So, my idea was to crowd the middle and let’s make them play from the wide channel. I don’t think they got the chances they wanted but our team did exactly what they needed to do and it was beautiful effort.”
Despite being down, UNK controlled much of the action in the second half and was out shot by just an 11-7 margin (5-5 in the second half). The ‘Stangs also had a 9-2 advantage in corners but sophomore keeper Mackenzie Smith (Lincoln H.S.) and the Loper defense got out of each jam unscathed. Smith ended up with nine saves.
“Getting numbers forward definitely helps in the ability to get some goals but obviously when you’re down a player, you can’t really get forward,” said Breton. “It’s also about quality opportunities. We’re going to talk more about efficiency and quality (scoring chances) rather than quantity.”
Senior Cammie Davis (Wichita) had two shots with four teammates having a shot on goal. That group included junior Aspen Brandich (Colorado Springs) and junior Jacylan Doering (Lincoln). SMSU saw sisters Kirsten and Brooke Wetterstrom both have two shots on goal with keeper Rachel Hicks at four saves.
“I’ve learned the girls have a real strong mentality when they realize how empowered and quality they really are,” said Breton. “You saw it today compared to the first day (3-0 loss to Winona State). Even going down a player, all of a sudden you saw this energy of ‘we can still go after them.’ On Friday, when we had even players and went down a goal, it was like ‘oh we’re the victim and going to get beat again.’ It took 40 minutes for them to click and still go.” UNK heads to Colorado Mesa (0-2-0) and Western Colorado (0-2-0) next weekend.
Source: Regional Sports