After losing to Kansas last week, the soccer team travels to Austin, Texas, Friday to take on a Longhorn team that provide their best shot at grabbing a victory — the first of the season.
“We’re pissed, we’re mad, we want to win,” sophomore forward Kyler Goins said. “We’re going to bring that same competitive energy from KU to Texas.”
The biggest issue this season for the Wildcats is their failure to convert on opportunities. Through every game so far, Kansas State had a total of 19 shots — four of those shots on goal and one scoring a point.
In their most recent game against the Jayhawks, K-State sent six shots flying — just one on goal. It was the lack of converted opportunities that sunk K-State.
However, head coach Mike Dibbini believes they are close to a breakthrough.
“We’ve been in these positions before, but I think we’re inching closer to figuring it out,” Dibbini said. “We broke down a really good KU team, clearly had three or four key moments, but we just could not finish and make opportunities — and that’s the moment we’ve got to get better at.”
Dibbini is focused on making sure the women practice every possible scenario, drilling into them the importance of finishing their opportunities.
Players stayed after practice to work on drills that emphasize the importance of finishing.
“It’s really frustrating [not finishing]. We talk about it a lot, how frustrating it is and recently we’ve been working,” senior midfielder Christina Baxter said. “What we just did [after practice] for 30 minutes was finishing and I think the more we continue to repeat it and get that same feeling. I think we’re going to start doing some special stuff because we’ve been working really hard on extra work after practice.”
Losing players from injuries and COVID-19 precautions made this year particularly tough for the Wildcats. In their last match, K-State fielded 18 of their 31 players.
On Wednesday, Dibbini said he can field anywhere from 18 to 20 players on Friday, and hopes that number increases to 24 by their match against Oklahoma.
Because of the injuries and COVID-19 precautions plaguing the goalkeeper position, K-State started redshirt freshman goalkeeper Cameron Illingworth against the Jayhawks last week. She previously had not seen a minute of action with the Wildcats, but had four saves, holding the Jayhawks scoreless until the 60th minute.
Even with original backup freshman Alaina Werremeyer back in the goalkeeper rotation this week, Dibbini expects Illingworth to start Friday night after the amount of training she logged this week.
Dibbini’s biggest worry for the team is their energy when traveling, and since the trip to Austin, Texas, is over 10 hours, those concerns are valid.
Baxter believes that energy will be key for the match on Friday night. Motivation must be high for a victory against the Longhorns.
“It comes with energy coming out, wanting to win every battle that you have,” Baxter said. “At this point, we have nothing to lose because obviously. We’re coming in as the underdogs, we haven’t won a game yet, we’ve scored once and I think [the key] is just staying motivated and continuing to work hard on the field.”
Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. Friday in Austin, Texas, and is available live on the Longhorn Network, as well as heard on 101.5 KROCK.