K-State soccer: Friday’s win a sign of things to come

Sophomore forward Tatum Wagner tries to hold position of the ball while sophomore midfielder Morgan Mauck swoops in during the Wildcats’ scrimmage on Aug. 6, 2016, at the K-State Soccer Complex. (File Photo by Evert Nelson | The Collegian)

The word “Friday” can mean a lot of things to a college student. From late night parties to trips home and a sometimes savage disregard for homework until Sundays, the concept of Friday can represent a lot.

The Kansas State soccer team gave students one more possible meaning to the word: victory.

On Friday night, the Wildcats’ soccer team went into Rochester, Michigan, and took on the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies. On the road, against a team that made it to NCAA Tournament last season, K-State won 6-0.

Think about that for a second.

In soccer, a six-goal win is the type of thing countries hold grudges over, like Brazil did after losing 7-1 to Germany in the World Cup semifinal in 2014. That loss was so bad The New York Times referred to it as “humiliating” and “embarrassing” in their article about this year’s Olympic gold medal match win by Brazil against the same team.

A six-goal win is a bit like a basketball team winning by 60 points, or like an Oklahoma team coming into Manhattan, Kansas, and winning 55-0, possibly out of sheer anger at having lost the previous week to bitter rival Texas in front of a stadium dominated by OU fans.

It’s the type of win that looks good when you consider that Notre Dame beat Oakland 5-0 in the first round of last year’s tournament, courtesy of outshooting Oakland 34-4.

K-State’s score Friday indicated that kind of victory.

Yet it would seem strange to believe it was at all based on any kind of anger. After all, Friday’s game came after a 0-0 draw against Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville the prior Sunday. Though that game was physical, it was not an actual loss, and certainly not one to a rival of any kind.

Friday’s win was not about any kind of revenge. Rather, it was about a team already starting to find its identity, at the time only three games into its inaugural season and less than halfway through a season-opening road trip.

“We are slowly finding the pieces and units,” head coach Mike Dibbini said to K-State Sports after the win. “We still have work to do, but we will celebrate the win today. The more we play together, the more confidence we’ll get and the more chances we will create.”

Those pieces will continue to come together the longer the season goes on. In that game, K-State and Oakland each had six shots in the first half, but, by halftime, it was 3-0.

“I think we all came out and just wanted to get the first win and coach said that our best defense is our offense,” sophomore forward Tatum Wagner said to K-State Sports.

Two days later, K-State’s defense was their best defense. They held Central Michigan University to one goal in the first half, and stopped Central Michigan star Alexis Pelafas from scoring for more than 85 minutes. Pelafas is currently tied for the second most goals in NCAA women’s soccer, with six goals in only four games.

That’s defense the Wildcats can be proud of, and fans can get excited about. Friday’s win likely came as a relief for a program just trying to grow a little each day.

“From the first half last Friday to now the sixth half, it has been a mentality change and believing and understanding that we will have the individual players that have the talent but can we do it now together as a team defensively and understanding that we have a game plan and can you execute the game plan,” Dibbini said to after the win. “Today they executed the game plan.”

Look for that execution and belief to continue to grow.

Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.