The Griffon soccer team ended their two-match losing streak Thursday evening in Joplin, Mo. against Missouri Southern State University. Western defeated the 2-5-1 Lions two to one.
“I’m really proud of the kids this week,” head coach Chad Edwards said.
Missouri Southern scored first in the 32nd minute of the match. Julia Liberty scorched one past goalkeeper Paige Labadie. Labadie and the Griffons’ defense wouldn’t allow another goal, thanks to her four saves on the day.
“We started off a little slow and didn’t play great in the first half,” Edwards said.
The Griffons outshot the Lions six to three in the first half. Western is sixth in the conference in shots taken per game, shooting 13.80. The problem for the offense is that only 5.70 of those shots are on goal.
Coming off of two-straight losses, the Griffons’ coach feared they were headed for number three going into halftime.
“You’re thinking to yourself, you’re down 1-0 nothing on the road, coming off of two losses,” Edwards said. “Going into halftime was a little nerve wracking.”
Western came out firing in the second half, scoring quickly in the 49th minute off the foot of Sydney Cluck.
The Griffons got their second goal of the match in the 77th minute. Cassidy Menke’s goal gave Western the lead. It was her third goal of the season.
“She can strike the ball really well,” Edwards said. “We found her in the right spot and she earned that goal.”
Missouri Western finished with 17 shots; the Lions only took seven. The Griffons struggled with their accuracy, as the Lions only had two saves on the day.
The Griffons traveled to Bolivar, Mo. on Saturday to battle winless Southwest Baptist.
“They have been competitive in every game they’ve played this season,” Edwards said.
Western started quickly in this match, scoring in the eighth minute of the match. Once again, it was Menke who put the Griffons ahead in this game.
“We’ve started off slow, and it was nice to get that goal early,” Edwards said.
Once again Western outshot their opponents in the match. The Griffons took 17 shots for the second game in a row, but SBU goalkeeper Makayla Hussong’s strong performance held them to just the one goal. The game provided a key opportunity for the Griffons gain some confidence on offense, especially with an SBU team that allows three goals per game.
The Griffons will travel to Kearney, Nebraska on Friday to face the University of Nebraska-Kearney. The Lopers are 3-6-1 on the year and losers of three in a row. UNK is ranked 10th in the conference in goals per game; averaging less than one. The Griffons may have trouble scoring against goalkeeper Allie Prososki. Prososki has 37 saves and has allowed just nine goals this season.
“We’ve had a lot of success against Kearney the last couple of years, but the games have always been really close,” Edwards said.
Western will have a tougher match on Sunday when their schedule takes them to Hays, Kansas. Fort Hays sits just a half-game back of Missouri Western in the standings.
“Hays is always tough, they have a great venue out there,” Edwards said. “They’re good, they’re real good.”
The Tigers are third in the conference in scoring, averaging two goals per game. The team is led on offense by Eden Stoddard, Thaiya Dwyer and Kelsey Steffens. Stoddard is second in the MIAA with six goals this season. Dwyer is right behind her with five goals, and Steffens is averaging just under one point per game.
The Griffons sit at seven wins with eight games left in the regular season. Western needs just three wins to break the school record for wins in a season. The team will also face the top two teams in the conference one more time a piece; this provides a chance for them to gain ground in the race for the MIAA Championship.