Wildcats look to improve consistency in pursuit of first home win

Freshman midfielder Laramie Hall guards the ball from University of Northern Iowa defender Kelsey Hansen during the match between K-State and UNI on Sept. 16, 2016. (File Photo by George Walker | The Collegian)

The Kansas State Wildcats (2-5-2) will play home games tonight and Sunday afternoon as they continue the search for their first home victory.

The Wildcats lost to Northern Iowa Sept. 16, 2-1, allowing the second-straight comeback against them this season after UNI scored two goals in a period of about two minutes, one goal coming 21 seconds before halftime, the other coming less than 90 seconds after.

Wednesday, K-State head coach Mike Dibbini said the loss stung, but it was part of the process, and the team is moving forward as they prepare for tonight’s game against Oral Roberts (5-5-0) and Sunday’s game against South Dakota (1-8-1).

He also said he expects the team to be competitive this weekend, just as they were last weekend.

“Competing for 90 minutes, that’s our number one goal,” Dibbini said. “I felt like in our last match we competed for 88 out of the 90 minutes. We gave up two minutes of just young mistakes.”

Specifically, Dibbini said he hopes to see the team play defensively disciplined throughout the game while executing on offense.

“I’m hoping we go 90 minutes of staying detailed and staying the course of the game,” Dibbini said.

Freshman midfielder Laramie Hall said the team primarily spent this week working on the intangible aspects of soccer.

“We’re really working on the mental part of the game,” Hall said. “We have the soccer down, we have the talent and we have the hard work. It’s just mentally making sure we’re focused for everything, so that’s what we’ve been trying to work on.”

Hall said Wednesday that the team would look later in the week at the specific styles of Oral Roberts and South Dakota, but she felt confident the team could be dangerous if they could just pull together all the abilities they have.

“We have a lot of the pieces of the puzzle; it’s just for us putting them together,” Hall said. “Once we put them together, I think we can beat any team. So it really doesn’t matter who we play, it’s just the matter of getting ourselves ready for it and focusing every single minute.”

Dibbini said he sees this weekend as an opportunity to start to build momentum for the looming four-game road trip the Wildcats will take to conclude their season. That road trip starts Oct. 2. against Drake.

“I’m looking at this as can we execute better offensively and execute better defensively and see if we can get the (winning) results,” Dibbini said. “Confidence is important as we’re going into our next road trip here in a couple weeks.”

Tonight’s game versus Oral Roberts (5-5-0)

The Wildcats’ weekend starts tonight when they play the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles. Junior goalkeeper Miranda Larkin is scheduled to start in net for the Wildcats.

Though she has allowed four goals in her last two starts, Larkin has played exceptionally in net for the Wildcats this season, blocking 86 percent of the shots she has faced, which ranks her No. 30 in the nation in that category.

The Golden Eagles enter the game with some momentum after they crushed the Texas Southern Tigers 7-0 Sunday. They outshot the Tigers 42-5.

The Wildcats also outshot their last opponent, outshooting the Panthers 18-9 Sept. 16, but failed to get as many on goal as the Panthers, who beat them 6-4 in that category.

The Wildcats are scheduled to play the Golden Eagles at 7 p.m. at the K-State Soccer Complex.

Sunday’s game versus South Dakota (1-8-1)

The Wildcats then take on the South Dakota Coyotes Sunday afternoon.

The Coyotes are coming off 2-1 loss to the University of Missouri-Kansas City, who the Wildcats are scheduled to play next week in their final home game of the season.

The Coyotes have had it rough lately, losing seven straight games and eight of their last nine, with their only other result being a double-overtime tie against the University of California-Riverside back on Aug. 26. In their last two games, the Coyotes have been outscored 5-2.

The Wildcats have only lost three straight, but have also been outscored in their last two losses by 4-2.

The Wildcats and Coyotes are scheduled to play at 1 p.m. Sunday at the K-State Soccer Complex.

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.