by Andrew Hookom
The women’s soccer team had a disappointing start to Northwest Conference play this weekend, losing twice.
After a hard-fought 0-1 match against second-ranked Willamette Saturday, the Missionaries were soundly beaten 1-4 by last-ranked George Fox on Sunday.
“This is obviously not the way we wanted to start off the conference season,” said Coach Scott Shields after the Sunday game.
The team has added seven new players this season, but Shields said that doesn’t explain the early losses, since there is also a solid group of six seniors who have been playing together for years.
The team played much more cohesively and put up more of a fight against the stronger Willamette. Jennifer Doane bested a defender with a between-the-legs dribble, while first-year Corina Gabbert earned a yellow card for an aggressive tackle. But the team struggled to score a goal even with 18 attempts to the Bearcats’ 15. Gabbert had 12 of the attempts, putting five on goal.
“We had some awesome opportunities, and we just didn’t capitalize,” said Shields.
The one Whitman goal of the weekend came in the second half of the game on Sunday when Sammie Arthur netted a penalty kick. While the Missionaries shared the ball evenly with George Fox, they struggled to combine passes and create scoring opportunities.
“We decided not to really show up and play as a team,” said Shields. “We need to figure out what our team is going to be.”
Two of the Bruins’ goals came from players who were left wide-open. The first goal, scored only a few minutes into the game, was the result of a breakaway that goalkeeper Erica Goad tried to chase down and couldn’t. Their fourth came from a cross to an open player.
Shields said two of Whitman’s defenders had a top-notch game Sunday, however, pointing to lapses in the mid-field that led to untenable defensive situations.
“When breakdowns happen in front, bad things will happen,” said Shields.
Whitman will take to the road next weekend, visiting Pacific University and Linfield College, both ranked below the Missionaries.