Women’s soccer loses close match 2-1, starts season with 2 losses

Tom O'Connor, Women's Soccer Reporter

Once head coach Jake Plant had processed what was a scoreless 6-0 loss to Ball State, he avowed that the occasion demonstrated a need for reflection as the season got underway.

Between then and now, Plant watched the Eastern women’s soccer team pivot from the defeat with a mindset he considers to be conducive to winning matches, even if this newfound spirit could not be reflected in the outcome of a 2-1 loss to Kansas City on Aug. 30.

“They have led with their playing identity and cultural identity since (that loss to Ball State),” Eastern head coach Jake Plant said. “They will have a great year if they continue to lead themselves in this way.”

Eastern’s identity as a defensive power last season with seniors Kate Olson and Kayla Stolfa, mainstays for Eastern on that end over their tenure in the program, gave Eastern enough armor to weather the blows of the occasional scoring draught or forced error.

The iteration of the Panther defense that came out this weekend pleased the second-year coach, indicative of a team with the potential to resemble their former selves.

“If you watch the game, you would see that the majority of shots were taken from 30 yards out where Sara simply picked up the ball,” Plant said. “It was a good defensive performance from the team that limited a very good Kansas City team to very few actual chances to score.”

The Panther defense collided with turbulence less than 10 minutes into the match, when, off an Eastern turnover just outside the penalty box, sophomore Rylan Childers found the bottom left corner.

Senior Carly Janike’s goal to open the second half ensured Kansas City of the victory, and the result delivered the Roos’ best record through three matches since the program’s inaugural season.

The insurgence of Eastern freshman Nicoletta Anuci as a bona fide sharp shooter looked to be on full display, contributing what had been her first regular season goal at the collegiate level and the only point for the Panthers through two matches.

Anuci steered the ball into the top right corner of the net later in the second half, but her break away could not compensate for a first half that yielded zero goals.

“Right now she is willing to learn what we need her to do from a team aspect without taking away from where she is individually, very good,” Plant said.

Such a feat created a diversion from empty scoring runs and a costly turnover, which set up Childers’ early goal, that typified play before halftime.

Kansas City deterred the opposing attack and did not surrender a single shot on goal in the first half to the Panthers, who were kept to just 5 percent possession in the attacking zone for 90 minutes of soccer.

Upgrading its record to 3-0, Kansas City head coach Chris Cissell invigorated the attack with his rotation modifications throughout the match, reaching rather deep into his collection of re-serves.

Tom O’Connor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].