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Defense shines for UNK in opening weekend

Loper Megan Merkel fights for possesion while two Minnesota State Moorhead defenders rush toward the ball.

Alex Eller
Sports Reporter

Defense was the name of the game for the Lopers women soccer team in the UNK Fall Classic last weekend. After not finding the back of the net, UNK had to settle for two ties.

In-game one against Minnesota State Moorhead, both teams never let the other get the edge and as a result, the game ended in a 0-0 tie after two overtime periods.

“They’re a really great team, it’s one of those games we knew was going to be tough from the start,” said UNK Coach Chloe Roberts. “To show how mentally tough we are, go the full length in overtime and to stay disciplined and organized was great. There were a lot of positives that came out of that.”

Right out of the gate senior forward Maddie Love had an opportunity for a goal from the edge of the Dragons goal box. In the end, the shot ended up not challenging keeper Kayleigh Sedlacek and went right to her.

The Lopers best opportunity to score came at the end of the first half. UNK possessed the ball deep in Moorhead territory for close to two minutes and couldn’t score. 

Throughout the contest Dragon goalkeeper, Sedlacek was challenged but never broke. The sophomore from Washington had a game-high nine saves.

UNK possessed the ball on Moorhead’s side of the field for 57% of the game. The Lopers also had 11 shots and nine shots on goal to the Dragons four shots and two shots on goal.

“Piece by piece we are trying to put this together. With the big freshman class getting use to what others are good at and what others like, whether that be playing the ball to their feet or playing the ball through. Sometimes we need to change up and not be so consistent in one area,” Roberts said

One part for UNK that was consistent was its defense. Led by senior captain Molly Willis the group of one senior and three freshmen stifled the Moorhead offense before they could get to the goalbox.

“To stay so organized with high communication, that really helped. We did a really good job team defending with some fast forwards on the other side. Now we just try and build on that for the next game,” Roberts said. 

Build on it they did, as the Loper defense pitched there second shutout in as many days. This time against in-state rival Wayne State.

UNK’s offense improved from game one to game two with three solid chances to score on Sunday. The first two were called off due to offsides and then the last attempt was waved off because of a foul by the Loper defense on Wildcat goalie Rachel Grisham. 

Wayne also had great opportunities to score, but couldn’t capitalize. In the second half, they had two near makes that left everyone at Cope Stadium on the edge of their seats.

Their first shot went high and off the post and the second shot was deflected in a one on one situation by Allie Prososki. The senior captain for UNK ended the day with nine saves to lead all players.

“It was tough there second half, we were getting pretty tired,” said goalkeeper Prososki. “We kept fighting through all the through balls working as one unit and we thought we finished the half well.”

On the season, UNK already has more ties in two games than they had in eighteen games a season ago.

The Lopers now look forward to a solid week of practice as they get ready for the Western Colorado Invite this weekend.

“It’s going to be tough to go to Colorado and play with the altitude, but we’ll be back at practice working on the things that we learned from these games, Prososki said.

UNK will play Colorado Messa first at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13 and then at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15 Western Colorado.

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