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Soccer ‘Cats defend well in Omaha

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Kansas State turned 2 goals into 4 points against Creighton and UNO to improve to 2-2-2.

Coach Mike Dibbini
Kansas State soccer coach Mike Dibbini has his team playing quite well in its inaugural season.
Scott Weaver/Kansas State Athletics

Kansas State soccer’s long program-opening road trip continued with a pair of solid results in Omaha over the weekend, and I’m here to give you all the details in the inaugural weekly update. A late goal salvaged a 1-1 draw at Creighton and a second-half goal from a freshman lifted the Wildcats to a 1-0 win at Nebraska-Omaha.

If you want a full preview of K-State’s first season plus an evaluation of where the program stands and where it’s headed direct from the source, check out our excellent and informative podcast with coach Mike Dibbini.

I’ll get to a recap of the first two weeks in a moment, but for now, let’s take a look back at last weekend. It’s the only one thus far without a loss during a 2-2-2 start, and as you’d expect from a young team still finding its identity, the best weekend yet.

It got off to an auspicious start, when Creighton midfielder Caeley Lordemann’s shot in the sixth minute deflected off a Wildcat defender and beat goalkeeper Miranda Larkin, ending her shutout streak of 225:57 to start the season. But rather than fold against the Blue Jays, who went unbeaten in their first 4 games before a 3-1 loss to Iowa State, Kansas State bounced back to play even the rest of the way.

But the equalizer wouldn’t come until the 86th minute, when freshman Laramie Hall scored her first goal on a cross from Tennessee transfer Tatum Wagner. The ‘Cats were fortunate to see Creighton’s 87th minute penalty kick go wide, but they also just missed two great chances of their own in overtime and finished with 15 shots, just one less than the Blue Jays.

Larkin came up big on Monday at UNO with five saves and freshman Dora Gallo became the first K-State player to score her second goal of the season on a cross from Hall in the 62nd minute. Dibbini told KStatesports.com his team looked a little tired early from Friday’s double overtime marathon, but they came on strong to hand the Mavericks their second loss in four matches.

It’s great to see freshman making key contributions, although transfers such as Wagner and Larkin (from Oklahoma) certainly are needed while the inexperienced players develop. Defenders Morgan Egan (Pittsburgh), Kelcy Fiser (Ball State), Megan Kalkofen (Wisconsin) and Haley Sutter (Memphis) are the only Wildcats to play more than 500 minutes this season, and the best part is all four are only sophomores.

They’ve been excellent since giving up two goals in a shaky first half at Saint Louis in a 3-1 loss to start the season. K-State responded with a 0-0 draw at SIU, and then the offense exploded with six goals from six different players at Oakland in an emphatic first win, 6-0.

Two days later the ‘Cats did well to stay competitive in a 2-0 loss at MAC favorite Central Michigan, who is 5-0. The Chippewas even won 2-1 at Michigan State last Sunday.

Next up is a trip to Arkansas featuring what appears to be two more challenging games prior to the home opener vs. Northern Iowa at the brand new K-State Soccer Complex on Sept. 16. Friday’s opponent, Central Arkansas, comes in 4-2 with a three-game win streak, and Arkansas Little-Rock lost 1-0 to Central Arkansas earlier this year but also had a three-game win streak prior to Sunday’s 1-0 loss at No. 14 Texas A&M.

If you want to follow the ‘Cats, be sure to check back next week for another update, and you can also listen to games on 101.5 KROCK in Manhattan or free on kstatesports.com. K-State is one of just two Big 12 schools to provide live audio of its games, and video will also be included for all four home matches.