Northwest soccer continued its dry spell on the road this season, moving to 0-2-1 in enemy territory and 1-4-1 on the season after this past weekend. The Bearcats find themselves second to last in the MIAA standings going into the last half of September due to losses to No. 8 Central Missouri and unranked Missouri Western.
It’s looking like unwanted familiar territory for the Bearcats early on in their 2019 campaign as they’ve dropped their last three games, two of those coming against MIAA conference opponents. Coach Marc Gordon and his team have found themselves on the back end of some close matches this season but haven’t been able to close the door.
Last season, the Bearcats were able to start off with a win at home against William Jewell before going on an 11-game losing streak. With an increased attack this season, the Bearcats have been able to keep matches within a goal or two, in spite of not being able to start out on top in most of the contests.
The ‘Cats have only scored the first goal in two of their six matches, causing them to struggle to get momentum early. Northwest has also been slightly outmatched with shots on goal per game. Averaging 16.2 to their opponents 18.5 per game.
“Our team has taken some more risks this season, and they have been more aggressive,” Gordon said. “We know how far scoring the first goal can go, and we are still trying to be the team to set the tone.”
Gordon knows his team is capable of winning but would like the Bearcats to match the aggressiveness of their opponents to start the games.
While the Bearcats have already surpassed their total in goals from last year with 11, only three of those occurred in the first half. Northwest has found itself with its back against the wall on multiple occasions this season but is still hopeful about the efforts in the second half of matches.
“We work hard in practice and in the pregame to prepare for our next opponent, but it always takes time to adjust and find our strengths when we get into the actual game,” freshman midfielder Kaitlyn Case said.
Along with having a team-high four goals this season, Case has taken on somewhat of a leadership role for the Bearcats. She knows trailing early isn’t ideal, but entertained the fact that her team has been willing to fight to get back into matches.
“Our defense and forward and midfielder production has grown over the past couple months,” Case said. “We have our occasional mistakes, but what team doesn’t?”
As the Bearcats get into the bulk of their conference schedule, they will likely need the same production from Case and her teammates juniors midfielder Manuela Gonzalez and forward Alex Mausbach. This will allow the ‘Cats to keep the same attack on the offensive side of play and will take the stress off of the Bearcats defense.
Those three Bearcats have been responsible for seven of the team’s 11 goals this season and provide a couple of options when taking shots.
“The team is starting to realize each other’s strengths and abilities and that will help build trust between our team,” Gordon said. “When everyone knows their role on the team, and the role that will best play into the team's success, is when we will start finding ourselves the winners of close games.”