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Loper soccer battles through colder weather at home

Emma Middleton had one shot in the tie with Rogers State. Photo provided by Shelby Berglund / Antelope Staff

The UNK women’s soccer team faced Rogers State on Friday and Northeastern State on Sunday in Ron & Carol Cope Stadium. The Hillcats and the Lopers ended the match on Friday with a 0-0 tie. The Riverhawks beat the Lopers on Sunday 2-0.

The Lopers felt they started strong against Rogers State in the first half of Friday’s match.

“First half was, again, exactly what we were trying to do,” said UNK coach Rob Breton. “We were on the front foot the whole time then it’s a moment where we’ve been teaching them not to give up corner kicks to give an opportunity for a free goal-scoring attack but where we decided to have the ball back into is right in front of our box rather than kicking it out for a corner kick. That’s just decision-making.”

Coach Breton mentioned how Mackenzie Smith has shown a lot of aggression as the Loper goalkeeper. She had five saves during the match which created offensive opportunities.

“Second half, we start creating these moments and then it’s weird because there’s sometimes that the girls are selfless and they should be selfish,” Breton said. “Then there’s other moments where we’re selfish when we should be selfless. Some of that is just instinct and some of that is just decision-making.”

Although the Lopers didn’t get on the scoreboard this weekend, Coach Breton sees the progress in the way they are creating opportunities.

 You see the progress, you really can see the progress. The result really doesn’t show it but two great moments for them.” Breton said. “I would just love to see us get those same opportunities where we take what’s presented to us rather than hoping to win.”

The Lopers had six shots during the match. Cammie Davis had the most field time with 86 minutes and led the team with three shots on goal during the match. The other three shot attempts were split between Caralee Legg, Jacylan Doering and Angelina Iocca.  

The Lopers turned around and lost to Northeastern State 2-0 on Sunday and thought they saw a lot of potential early in the game.

“The first half was an indication of what we can do and we should be able to do all the time,” Breton said. “There were some brilliant moments, the defense was blocking them in and they couldn’t get out of their half of the field for the majority of the half. The few times that they did, they beat us on counter plays so we just gotta understand how to read those cues a little better but the passing, the movement, the commitment, the pressure.”

Peyton Rhen led the team with three shots and one shot on goal, Jacylan Doering and Emily Flowers each had one shot and one shot on goal. UNK had five shots and three shots on goal during the match. 

The second half is where the Lopers struggled the most.

“So, I messed up in regards to not getting the girls out soon enough after halftime because they were very stiff and tight,” Breton said. “This was our first cold cold game, with that drastic change, the muscles tighten up and when your muscles tighten up you start feeling cold and you lose focus. That is where that warmup really matters.”

The defense recovered in the second half and Breton was pleased with how they performed. 

“The defense recovered, to me that’s a great example of where we’re going as a unit and what we’re doing and what we are capable of doing,” Breton said. “They’re fully committing to the concepts that we’ve been teaching.”

Mackenzie Smith had four saves during the match. She had one more save than the goalkeeper for Northeastern State.

“Mackenzie did her job tonight,” Breton said. “That’s what I tell her all the time because she can play this way for 90 minutes. Sometimes we get it in glimpses but tonight was a 90-minute thing where in the last minute of the game, she makes a brilliant save over top.” 

Mackenzie Smith was a key player for the Lopers during the match. She had an opportunity to hold off Northeastern State in the last few seconds of the second half. 

“Then in the last 10 seconds, they drop a ball right in front of her and she was smart enough to collapse on top of the ball and hold it so they can’t get a second touch,” Breton said. “You have to give her credit where it’s due.”

The Lopers will be back in action at home this weekend against the top team in the MIAA, Central Missouri on Friday. They will take on Missouri Southern on Sunday.

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