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Weekly soccer update: KSU drops 2 close matches in Arkansas

The ‘Cats did everything but find the net at Central Arkansas and couldn’t hold on to an early lead at UALR

Coach Mike Dibbini
K-State will finally play its first game in Manhattan on Friday night against Northern Iowa. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Scott Weaver/Kansas State Athletics

Kansas State’s inaugural soccer season rolled on as an eight-game road trip to start the season finally ended in Arkansas, setting the stage for this Friday’s sold-out (SRO tickets may still be available) home opener against Northern Iowa. Offense continues to be a bit of a struggle, but the ‘Cats were competitive in a 1-0 loss at Central Arkansas on Friday and a 2-1 loss at Arkansas Little-Rock on Sunday.

K-State became the fourth straight shutout victim of UCA, who scored the game’s only goal in the 22nd minute on a header from Ashley Smith. Forward Laramie Hall appeared to score for the ‘Cats in the 31st minute only to have it negated by a foul, and Krista Haddock just missed a 1on1 opportunity in the 44th minute.

Coach Dibbini said KSU dominated the second half but simply couldn’t beat UCA goalkeeper Lauren Mercuri. The ‘Cats finished with a season-high (and therefore school record, obviously) 22 shots, but goalkeeper Michelle Larkin was forced to make a career-high 7 saves, including 5 in the first half.

All the offensive momentum must have carried over to Sunday, when sophomore defender/midfielder Haley Sutton, a Memphis transfer, scored from 20 yards out barely a minute after the opening kickoff. But this time K-State found itself on the defense for most of the match.

UALR’s Jaclyn Purvine scored in the 29th minute after the ‘Cats blocked two shots. Coach Dibbini said his team got complacent in its pressure and they eventually paid the price as Harrison Hayworth took advantage of another inability to clear the ball in the 79th minute to give the Trojans their fifth win in six matches. The only loss was a 1-0 setback at No. 14 Texas A&M.

Kansas State fell to 2-4-2 on the season, which still seems like a respectable record for Year 1. The Wildcats are unbeaten against teams (2-0-1) that currently don’t have a winning record, which is great news heading into this weekend’s homestand against Northern Iowa (3-4-1) and Oral Roberts (4-4 with 1-0 losses at Texas Tech and TCU).