The Northwest soccer team is winless after the first two games of its season. In result of the tightly-contested matches to start the year in southwest Missouri, the Bearcats came away with a loss and a draw.
The ‘Cats started off the season with an out-of-conference matchup against the Drury Panthers Sept. 6. Although both teams started slow to begin the game with few shots on goal, Northwest’s junior midfielder Manuela Gonzalez scored in the 25th minute of the contest.
Coach Marc Gordon said his team looked good in the first half of the game but noticed the fatigue setting in midway through the game. In the 38th minute, sophomore forward Chloe Cash scored the first goal of the year for Drury. Roughly 15 minutes later, the Panthers scored another goal and took a 2-1 lead.
In the second half, the Bearcats were able to record a rather minimalized three shots on goal but managed to score in the 78th minute with a goal from freshman midfielder Kaitlyn Case. The goal was enough for Northwest to not only even the match, but also keep the game tied, which is how the contest stayed for the remainder of the game.
“We have a winning mentality, and we are all bought into the system this season. We started strong and then struggled throughout the match, but we stuck with the game plan and finished strong,” Case said.
In the second game of the weekend, Sept. 9, the Bearcats took on Southwest Baptist. Much like the Northwest ‘Cats, the Bearcats of Southwest Baptist were also a team that struggled a season ago finishing with a 2-15-2 record. Along with Northwest, Southwest Baptist also brings in some freshman attackers who could be making an impact this season.
Southwest Baptist's freshman midfielder Lexi Lanzafame scored goals in the fourth minute and in the 19th minute to put the Northwest’s MIAA rival up 2-0 early in the match. Junior fielder Raegan Edwards also scored a goal in the first period for Southwest Baptist in the 36th minute to take a commanding 3-0 lead over the Northwest.
Northwest continued to struggle to get shots and apply pressure to Southwest Baptist. Throughout the entirety of the first period, Southwest Baptist’s goalie Ashley Gibbs was locking down the Bearcats scoring opportunities Northwest was again outmatched with shots in this match, only putting up 14 to Southwest Baptist’s 21.
“I have seen some instant improvements with the team including being better at attacking, the chemistry and the overall will to win,” Gordon said. “The team this year feels a lot different; everyone wants to become better.”
Gordon said throughout the game he made sure to keep his team motivated and determined. Along with Case, sophomore defender Tanith Beal would end up giving the Bearcats a spark to get Northwest on the board as the result of an assist from Beal. Four minutes later, Beal scored a goal of her own, notching her first one of the new season.
Despite Northwest battling coming back to within a lone goal, fatigue played a factor in the second half. That led to Southwest Baptist scoring two more goals, one in the 49th minute and the other in the 64th minute. With hands on their knees, an exhausted team of Bearcats didn’t have an answer to Southwest Baptist’s last two goals, leaving Northwest with a loss of 5-2.
“We know this rebuild will take more than an offseason and a couple of regular season games,” Gordon said. “We are going to improve from week to week until this thing is right.”