El-Naggar rallies Wildcats to tie Cincinnati in conference opener

A penalty kick from defender Aliyah El-Naggar ends in a goal against Cincinnati. The penalty tied the game at 1-1 in the 79th minute with the game ending in a tie of the same score on Sept. 14. (Jersey Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s note: We incorrectly called Cincinnati El-Naggar’s former team in print and the original online article. El-Naggar did not play for Cincinnati; she played for Ohio State and is a native of the Cincinnati area. We have updated this article and the headline to reflect that, and we apologize for this error.

Kansas State advances to 2-4-3 after a goal from team captain Aliyah El-Naggar tied the match late in the second half against Cincinnati, her hometown.

Early play saw pressure from both teams, advancing the ball evenly through the half. The Bearcats offense kept pressure on the Wildcats defensive front, advancing to an 8-2 shot advantage entering halftime.

Cincinnati was more aggressive in the second half, resulting in the opening goal of the night. The Bearcats put away the first shot of the night in the 63rd minute of play from forward Laura Zemberyova, striking the ball to the far left of the net, away from goalkeeper Murphy Sheaff.

Momentum shifted heavily in the Bearcats’ favor as the Wildcats looked to mount a comeback late. Frustration built offensively with many drives for the Wildcats halting because of efficient defense.

K-State gained a critical scoring opportunity with a free kick awarded in the 78th minute of play. El-Naggar set up the kick, firmly striking the high-arching ball to the right edge of the net, banking in for the score. 

The teams continued in the remaining minutes but ultimately there would not be enough time for either to create offense. With the tie, the Wildcats break a four-game losing streak and score for the second game in a row. 

“I thought we had some good chances today,” head coach Mike Dibbini said. “Wish we would have executed a couple more or at least one more but you know, it’s the game of soccer, goals don’t come that easy.” 

Offensive execution has been a point of emphasis for the team. Currently, K-State enters league play scoring the third fewest goals in the league. 

“I think [we] have got a lot of young players that have the ability to do really good things,” Dibbini said. “If we can avoid mental errors and execute our chances, if we do those two things consistently, you know, sky’s the limit.”

El-Naggar has been a standout player for the Wildcats on defense, transferring to K-State after previously playing at Ohio State. 

“It was just fun getting to play my hometown,” El-Naggar said. “It’s weird, I’m used to being there, and getting that goal too, it was really nice against them.” 

As a team captain, El-Naggar plays an important role in the Wildcat’s success, both as an individual and as a team.

“We’ve noticed that the past four games, we’ve been focusing a lot on the other team and we really need to focus on ourselves and what we do best,” El-Naggar said. 

The Wildcats continue league play with three straight road games. K-State will face off against Oklahoma at 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at John Craig Field in Norman, Oklahoma.