Soccer looks for home support on Sunday after returning from away stretch

K-State Wildcats huddle together for photos after facing Texas Tech. KSU finished the night 2-0 against TTU on senior night at Buser Family Park, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. (Archive photo by Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State women’s soccer team finishes its stretch of away games this Thursday against Purdue (3-1-2) before returning home on Sunday for its first home game in three weeks against Indiana (4-1-1).

Head coach Mike Dibbini and others said momentum is important this Thursday against Purdue to continue winning at home in the following games.

“I think it’s going to be great to get back and play in front of our fans,” Dibbini said during the press conference. “This road travel, through adversity, really identifies the areas that we need to work on. It helps us sure [up] those areas and hopefully coming back home and hopefully putting on a good performance in front of our fans would be great.”

The Wildcats last played at home against Weber State, where the stands at Buser Family Park were filled for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic started.

“It means a lot,” Dibbini said. “The girls appreciate it, we appreciate it and we just want to do well in front of them, so hopefully we can focus on the match and focus on the things we can control and give them a good performance.”

Dibbini and other players highlighted the fans as the “12th man” helping the team win games at home.

“It helps,” Dibbini said. “I don’t know if it’s from a jittery standpoint, you know the nerves a little bit, but it helps when it’s much needed you know, the ’12th man’ is going to be important going forward.”

This past week, Brookelynn Entz said how nice it has been for the team to bond together on the road. However, she said she is ready to get to play in front of the home crowd.

“It’ll be super nice getting back home,” Entz said. “Obviously, we’ve been away for I think 10 out of the last 14 days, and it takes a toll on your body and it takes a toll mentally, and trying to keep up with school is difficult as well. I think being home will take a lot off of our backs and we’ll be able to play free and we’re excited to play in front of the crowd again.”

Entz said that power comes in numbers and that she is feeling good about being back at home with her teammates.

“Obviously, we can’t travel with everybody, so being back home, it will be good to have the whole team back together, reunited,” Entz said.

Junior forward Marisa Weichel leads the team in goals scored (4) so far this season. She is on pace to break Entz’s record for goals in a season (7).

“I hope she can break my record,” Entz said. “Obviously, that’s the role of the center forward, and I think it helps a lot that she’s finishing those goals and taking the pressure off of everybody up there by finishing and putting us up. So yeah, I hope she can score as many goals as she can.”

Weichel has scored a goal in all three weeks of the season so far and is not slowing down to let Entz keep her record.

“I mean, yeah, that’s the goal [to break the record],” Weichel said. “I think [Entz] would say the same thing. Obviously, I’m going to score, but I just want our team to do well. We deserve it, and this team last year would have made the Big 12 Tournament, and I want to do everything I can to get us there.”

Weichel managed to put two goals in the back of the net in the contest against Colorado State.

Like her teammates, Weichel spoke on the excitement around playing back at home in front of a home crowd in Buser Family Park.

“We’ll have had five games under our belt so far since we’ve been here,” Weichel said. “I’m just excited because we’ll get to play Indiana at home, It’s going to be a great game, and in every game, we’ve been progressing. We’ve been getting better as a team, and I’m just so excited to come back here and show off what we’ve been doing and get a win at home on a Sunday night.”

A common theme for the soccer team this season is younger players making plays. It was no different this past Sunday against Colorado State as freshman Riley Baker found the back of the net, scoring her first career goal against the Rams.

“It was honestly amazing,” Baker said. “Everyone has been cheering for me … and every game has been so close, and finally I was able to put it away with a really good play from Roo [Yarnell-Williams].”

Baker praised the atmosphere of the team during her short time at K-State.

“It’s been so amazing,” Baker said. “I couldn’t have asked for better, and obviously, as a freshman, you’re nervous coming in, and you don’t know if it’s going to be bad or if the upperclassmen are going to be mean, but no, not at all … I don’t think I could ask for better.”

Peyton Pearson leads the team in shutout games this season (3) as K-State’s rotation goalkeeper playing alongside Alaina Werremeyer, filling the hole left by junior Rachel Harris, who is still recovering from a season-ending knee injury from this past year.

“I think it’s a good confidence booster for the whole team,” Pearson said. “It’s definitely not just me, it’s the entire back line and defense out in front of me who do most of the work.”

With the team playing away games for roughly three weeks now, Pearson says she’s ready to get back home in front of K-State fans.

“I am so done with traveling,” Pearson said. “It has taken so much out of me. Waking up at 5 a.m. and these last two weeks, we got like one day here and tomorrow we wake up at 5 a.m. and do it all over again. I’m just so ready to be home in front of our home fans … ready to show how we’ve grown these past two weeks.”

K-State will face two Big 10 opponents over the next two games, starting with Purdue (3-1-2) at 6 p.m. Thursday at Folk Field in West Lafayette, Indiana. The broadcast will be available through the Big 10 Network Plus.

For the second match, the Wildcats return for the first home game in three weeks at Buser Family Park at 7 p.m. in Manhattan against Indiana (4-1-1). The broadcast will be available through Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with live stats provided by