Soccer begins 2021 spring slate this weekend

Sophomore Kyler Goins celebrates fellow sophomore Maddie Weichel's second half goal against Texas Tech on Nov. 13. That 2-0 senior night victory was the final game in K-State's fall slate before starting their spring schedule this week. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

After finishing the fall season with a 3-6 record, the Kansas State soccer team gets a unique opportunity to play a spring slate that counts towards its overall record.

Prior to the 2020 fall season, none of the teams at K-State knew what schedules would look like because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, most teams played most, if not all, games.

The soccer team managed to play all of its games in the fall. Because of other conferences postponing the fall season, the Big 12 Conference allowed teams to play games in the spring and for those games to count for the non-conference record in the 2020 season.

The team will begin its spring schedule with two matches against in-state rival Kansas on March 6 at Buser Family Park, followed by a match on March 13 in Lawrence. The team then travels to Kansas City, Missouri, for a special closed friendly against Kansas City NWSL.

The Wildcats will then square off with Missouri, Oklahoma and Iowa State later in the season.

“It’s kind of a weird feeling because the games in the spring normally don’t count. But obviously it’s KU, no matter what, if it’s countable or not, we want to win that game,” senior midfielder Brookelynn Entz said. “The mindset is going to be good going in and I just want to beat KU.”

Entz, who Kansas City NWSL drafted, gets a unique opportunity to play against the team that she will play for after this season.

“It is super unique because normally when you get drafted you go right away and so now I have the chance to show a little bit more of what I can do,” Entz said. “I’m a little bit nervous because I know that I need to play well in that game and because I don’t know how much we’re going to have the ball. I think it’ll be super fun and I’m really excited for it.”

This season posed challenges for the coaches too. At this point in the season, head coach Mike Dibbini and his staff normally prepare for next season with the new roster. The focus shifted towards a winning mentality and getting as much out of this opportunity as possible.

“When we wrapped up last season, we had a great plan in terms of development plans for each player as well as the team and we’re trying to reach those goals one day at a time,” Dibbini said. “I think we’re going to continue to develop individually by getting faster, stronger, playing quicker. Having the matches be countable puts a little bit more pressure on the team.”

After finishing the fall season with a 3-6 record, the Wildcats look to improve in the spring. The team goes into the matchup against KU on a two-game winning streak and looks to get its first win over the Jayhawks since 2017.

The fifth all-time meeting between the Jayhawks and the Wildcats kicks off at 7 p.m. at Buser Family Park and can be streamed live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.