Late mistakes cost women’s soccer

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville women’s soccer team fell 2-1 while visiting North Park On Wednesday, Sept. 25.

The scoring started in the 10th minute for North Park by Katrina Dekirmendjan.  She took the ball down the right side of the field, out-ran the defense and squeezed the ball just past diving junior goalkeeper Jade Jandt.

Despite the early goal by North Park, the Pioneers controlled the action most of the first half and was in charge of the ball possession.  They stayed aggressive by pushing the ball into the North Park defense.

North Park took the 1-0 lead into halftime but the up-tempo first half was fueled by many Pioneer substitutions that helped keep the energy at a high level.

The second half opened with another quick score from North Park, this time by Anika Johnson in the 47th minute.

Down 2-0, the Pioneers tempo and energy jumped to a higher level.

“We made a few adjustments at half time, and after the second goal, we wanted to get some speed up top to get some better opportunities for us to score,” head coach Allison Stringer said.

The Pioneers kept control in the second half but also created many scoring chances in North Park’s defensive half; UW-Platteville was able to put 13 shots against North Park’s three.

“We wanted to get the ball to the middle of the field and use our eyes to feed the ball to our running forwards to open up their defense and work in a shot,” Stringer said.

The Pioneers determination paid off in the 63rd minute with a goal by senior captain Cassie Blatz.  Blatz drilled the ball from 30-yards out to put the ball in the top left corner of the net off a pass from Lindsey Harms.
“I was determined to take a shot on goal, had a good opportunity and took it and it went in,” said Blatz.

With Blatz’s goal, the Pioneers halved the deficit, down 2-1.  The home team’s tempo created more scoring chances for the Pioneers’ attack, outshooting North Park 8-1.

“It was easy to see that after that goal everyone got amped and you could see the momentum swing back into our favor, we just couldn’t find that tying goal,” junior defender and team captain Meghan Macy said.

The Pioneers were unable to get the equalizer and dropped their fourth home game of the season.

“This is just a tough one to swallow because I felt like we played a really good game,” Stringer said.

A late mistake cost the Pioneers a 1-0 loss to University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Saturday.

After playing more than 88 minutes of scoreless soccer, the Pointers had a high arching cross kick go off the hands of Pioneer freshman goalkeeper Mandy Taylor and into the net for the game-winning score.

“You can’t ask for too much more, we just have to put the ball away,” a visibly upset Stringer said after the game.

“We have to get a win so that we’re positive about something. You keep working your ass off and you keep losing in the last minute of a game, like we have the last three games, it’s tough.  We have to figure out how to get out of a game.  If we aren’t going to score, we have to figure out how to stop them from scoring.”

Both teams had problems controlling the ball as the wet field at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium had the ball skidding and sliding at higher-than-usual speeds.

“We talked about it before the game.  You can’t let the ball bounce because it’s going to skip.  Win everything out of the air and I thought we did that.”

The Pioneers offense was aggressive again, pushing the ball into Pointer territory and firing shots at UW-SP goalkeeper Kristen Churkey.

The first half was played mostly on the Pointers’ half of the field, as the Pioneers got off seven shots compared to UW-SP’s three.

“It’s coming from the coaches and players.  We’re on the same page in that sense.  They’re playing better than I have ever seen them play, we’re more talented than we’ve ever been.  We are pushing so hard because we know we are right there, we just have to catch a break.”

The teams played the second half more in the middle of the pitch, as both squads’ defenses were tipping passes away from their mark.  Late in the half, the Pioneers were pressing hard into the Pointers’ defense, firing 11 total shots in the period.

The loss put the Pioneers at 5-6 on the season and 1-1 in WIAC play.

The Pioneers return to the pitch for a home showdown against University of Wisconsin-La Crosse at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 9.